Introduction: Direct comparison of the relative efficacy of different recruitment maneuvers (RMs) for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) via clinical trials is difficult, due to the heterogeneity of patient populations and disease states, as well as a variety of practical issues. There is also significant uncertainty regarding the minimum values of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) required to ensure maintenance of effective lung recruitment using RMs. We used patient-specific computational simulation to analyze how three different RMs act to improve physiological responses, and investigate how different levels of PEEP contribute to maintaining effective lung recruitment. Methods: We conducted experiments on five 'virtual' ARDS patients using a computational simulator that reproduces static and dynamic features of a multivariable clinical dataset on the responses of individual ARDS patients to a range of ventilator inputs. Three recruitment maneuvers (sustained inflation (SI), maximal recruitment strategy (MRS) followed by a titrated PEEP, and prolonged recruitment maneuver (PRM)) were implemented and evaluated for a range of different pressure settings. Results: All maneuvers demonstrated improvements in gas exchange, but the extent and duration of improvement varied significantly, as did the observed mechanism of operation. Maintaining adequate post-RM levels of PEEP was seen to be crucial in avoiding cliff-edge type re-collapse of alveolar units for all maneuvers. For all five patients, the MRS exhibited the most prolonged improvement in oxygenation, and we found that a PEEP setting of 35 cm H2O with a fixed driving pressure of 15 cm H2O (above PEEP) was sufficient to achieve 95% recruitment. Subsequently, we found that PEEP titrated to a value of 16 cm H2O was able to maintain 95% recruitment in all five patients. Conclusions: There appears to be significant scope for reducing the peak levels of PEEP originally specified in the MRS and hence to avoid exposing the lung to unnecessarily high pressures. More generally, our study highlights the huge potential of computer simulation to assist in evaluating the efficacy of different recruitment maneuvers, in understanding their modes of operation, in optimizing RMs for individual patients, and in supporting clinicians in the rational design of improved treatment strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine