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Online ISSN 1827-1596
SMART 2006 - Milan, May 10-12, 2006
Villar J. 1,2
1 Division of Organ Dysfunction Research Instituto Canario de Investigación Biomédica (ICIB) Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife Canary Islands, Spain
2 St. Michael´s Hospital, Toronto, Canada
Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) has become an essential component of the care of many critically ill patients who require ventilatory support. The application of PEEP is expected to improve lung mechanics and gas exchange as it recruits lung volume. In the last 3 decades, research of the effects of PEEP in animal models of lung injury and in patients with acute respiratory failure has produced a plethora of information. Support for the use of PEEP comes from historical comparisons and a few randomized controlled studies. Although the data from those animal studies and clinical trials could be seen as very convincing, there are insufficient data to propose an universal approach for the use of PEEP in patients with acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In this article I will review the basic mechanisms of PEEP and the current knowledge of the effects of PEEP on the evolution and outcome of ALI/ARDS.