Update in Management of Severe Hypoxemic Respiratory Failure

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Mortality related to severe-moderate and severe ARDS remains high. We searched the literature to update this topic. We defined severe hypoxemic respiratory failure as Pao2/Fio2 < 150 mm Hg (ie, severe-moderate and severe ARDS). For these patients, we support setting the ventilator to a tidal volume of 4 to 8 mL/kg predicted body weight (PBW), with plateau pressure (Pplat) ≤ 30 cm H2O, and initial positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) of 10 to 12 cm H2O. To promote alveolar recruitment, we propose increasing PEEP in increments of 2 to 3 cm provided that Pplat remains ≤ 30 cm H2O and driving pressure does not increase. A fluid-restricted strategy is recommended, and nonrespiratory causes of hypoxemia should be considered. For patients who remain hypoxemic after PEEP optimization, neuromuscular blockade and prone positioning should be considered. Profound refractory hypoxemia (Pao2/Fio2 < 80 mm Hg) after PEEP titration is an indication to consider extracorporeal life support. This may necessitate early transfer to a center with expertise in these techniques. Inhaled vasodilators and nontraditional ventilator modes may improve oxygenation, but evidence for improved outcomes is weak.

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