UMEM Educational Pearls

A low-tidal volume (or protective) strategy of mechanical ventilation (i.e., tidal volume of 6-8cc/kg of ideal body weight) has previously been demonstrated to be beneficial in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

A meta-analysis was recently performed to determine whether this strategy of mechanical ventilation is also beneficial for patients without lung injury prior to initiation of mechanical ventilation.

Dr. Neto, et al. performed a meta-analysis of 20 studies (total of 2,822 mechanically ventilated patients) comparing a conventional ventilation strategy (average tidal volume was 10.6 cc/kg) to a protective ventilation strategy (average tidal volume was 6.4 cc/kg) of mechanical ventilation.

The authors concluded that patients ventilated with a protective lung-strategy had reductions in:

  • Mortality
  • Lung injury and ARDS
  • Atelectasis
  • Pulmonary infections          
  • Length of hospital stay

Bottom-line: This meta-analysis supports the notion that a strategy of low-tidal volume ventilation may have benefits for patients without ARDS, however prospective studies are needed.


Neto, S. et al. Association between use of lung-protective ventilation with lower tidal volumes and clinical outcomes among patients without acute respiratory distress syndrome. JAMA, Oct. 24/31; 308;16.

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