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Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Pediatrics and Child Health

Very Low Tidal Volume Ventilation with Associated Hypercapnia - Effects on Lung Injury in a Model for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Published: Friday, August 19, 2011
Author: Hans Fuchs et al.

by Hans Fuchs, Marc R. Mendler, Dominik Scharnbeck, Michael Ebsen, Helmut D. Hummler


Ventilation using low tidal volumes with permission of hypercapnia is recommended to protect the lung in acute respiratory distress syndrome. However, the most lung protective tidal volume in association with hypercapnia is unknown. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of different tidal volumes with associated hypercapnia on lung injury and gas exchange in a model for acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this randomized controlled experiment sixty-four surfactant-depleted rabbits were exposed to 6 hours of mechanical ventilation with the following targets: Group 1: tidal volume?=?8–10 ml/kg/PaCO2?=?40 mm Hg; Group 2: tidal volume?=?4–5 ml/kg/PaCO2?=?80 mm Hg; Group 3: tidal volume?=?3–4 ml/kg/PaCO2?=?120 mm Hg; Group 4: tidal volume?=?2–3 ml/kg/PaCO2?=?160 mm Hg. Decreased wet-dry weight ratios of the lungs, lower histological lung injury scores and higher PaO2 were found in all low tidal volume/hypercapnia groups (group 2, 3, 4) as compared to the group with conventional tidal volume/normocapnia (group 1). The reduction of the tidal volume below 4–5 ml/kg did not enhance lung protection. However, oxygenation and lung protection were maintained at extremely low tidal volumes in association with very severe hypercapnia and no adverse hemodynamic effects were observed with this strategy.


Ventilation with low tidal volumes and associated hypercapnia was lung protective. A tidal volume below 4–5 ml/kg/PaCO2 80 mm Hg with concomitant more severe hypercapnic acidosis did not increase lung protection in this surfactant deficiency model. However, even at extremely low tidal volumes in association with severe hypercapnia lung protection and oxygenation were maintained.