Pulmonary function in adult survivors of severe acute lung injury treated with inhaled nitric oxide

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Following an episode of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), some degree of measurable pulmonary impairment may be anticipated. ARDS is thought to be the more severe form of acute lung injury (ALI) and a recently proposed addition to conventional therapy in ALI/ARDS is inhaled nitric oxide (INO). We carried out a non-randomised follow-up study with pulmonary function tests on survivors of severe ALI/ARDS treated with INO.


Sixteen previously healthy pulmonary patients, survivors of severe ALI/ARDS, were evaluated with pulmonary function tests >8 months after the acute event. The tests included static and dynamic spirometry, diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO), blood gas analysis and evaluation of a chest radiograph.


The most common abnormality seen was a low DLCO in 69% of the patients. Abnormally low values were seen in forced vital capacity in 31%, in forced expiratory volume in 1 s in 13%, and in residual volume and total lung capacity in 6%. Blood gas data were within normal limits in 15/16 patients. All chest radiographs showed resolution of the interstitial and alveolar changes present during the acute event.


In this non-randomised follow-up study we conclude that a degree of measurable pulmonary impairment after INO treatment in severe ALI/ARDS was common, but did not differ markedly from other published studies on pulmonary function in similar patient material. No late unexpected major abnormalities due to the inhaled nitric oxide treatment could be identified in these survivors.

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