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Repessé X. 1, 2, Charron C. 1, Vieillard-Baron A. 1, 2
1 Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, University Hospital Ambroise Paré, Intensive Care Unit, Section Thorax-Vascular Disease-Abdomen-Metabolism, Boulogne-Billancourt, France;
2 Faculty of Medicine Paris Ile-de-France Ouest, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, France
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a clinical entity involving not only alveolar lesions but also capillary lesions, both of which have deleterious effects on the pulmonary circulation, leading to constant pulmonary hypertension and to acute cor pulmonale (ACP) in 20-25% of patients ventilated with a limited plateau pressure (Pplat). Considering the poor prognosis of patients suffering from such acute right ventricular (RV) dysfunction, RV protection by appropriate ventilatory settings has become a crucial issue in ARDS management. The goal of this review is to emphasize the importance of analyzing RV function in ARDS, using echocardiography, in order to limit RV afterload. Any observed acute RV dysfunction should lead physicians to consider a strategy for RV protection, including strict limitation of Pplat, diminution of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and control of hypercapnia, all goals achieved by prone positioning.