Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

This review discusses the clinical challenges associated with ventilatory support and pharmacological interventions in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In addition, it discusses current scientific challenges facing researchers when planning and performing trials of ventilatory support or pharmacological interventions in these patients.Noninvasive mechanical ventilation is used in some patients with ARDS. When intubated and mechanically ventilated, ARDS patients should be ventilated with low tidal volumes. A plateau pressure <30 cmH2O is recommended in all patients. It is suggested that a plateau pressure <15 cmH2O should be considered safe. Patient with moderate and severe ARDS should receive higher levels of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP). Rescue therapies include prone position and neuromuscular blocking agents. Extracorporeal support for decapneisation and oxygenation should only be considered when lung-protective ventilation is no longer possible, or in cases of refractory hypoxaemia, respectively. Tracheotomy is only recommended when prolonged mechanical ventilation is expected.Of all tested pharmacological interventions for ARDS, only treatment with steroids is considered to have benefit.Proper identification of phenotypes, known to respond differently to specific interventions, is increasingly considered important for clinical trials of interventions for ARDS. Such phenotypes could be defined based on clinical parameters, such as the arterial oxygen tension/inspiratory oxygen fraction ratio, but biological marker profiles could be more promising.

Original publication




Journal article


European respiratory review : an official journal of the European Respiratory Society

Publication Date





Dept of Intensive Care and Laboratory of Experimental Intensive Care and Anesthesiology (LEICA), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Lung, Humans, Respiratory System Agents, Treatment Outcome, Respiration, Artificial, Respiratory Therapy, Patient Selection, Forecasting, Diffusion of Innovation, Health Services Research, Pulmonary Medicine, Clinical Decision-Making, Respiratory Distress Syndrome