Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 603–611 | Cite as

Opening pressures and atelectrauma in acute respiratory distress syndrome

  • Massimo Cressoni
  • Davide Chiumello
  • Ilaria Algieri
  • Matteo Brioni
  • Chiara Chiurazzi
  • Andrea Colombo
  • Angelo Colombo
  • Francesco Crimella
  • Mariateresa Guanziroli
  • Ivan Tomic
  • Tommaso Tonetti
  • Giordano Luca Vergani
  • Eleonora Carlesso
  • Vladimir Gasparovic
  • Luciano GattinoniEmail author
Seven-Day Profile Publication



Open lung strategy during ARDS aims to decrease the ventilator-induced lung injury by minimizing the atelectrauma and stress/strain maldistribution. We aim to assess how much of the lung is opened and kept open within the limits of mechanical ventilation considered safe (i.e., plateau pressure 30 cmH2O, PEEP 15 cmH2O).


Prospective study from two university hospitals. Thirty-three ARDS patients (5 mild, 10 moderate, 9 severe without extracorporeal support, ECMO, and 9 severe with it) underwent two low-dose end-expiratory CT scans at PEEP 5 and 15 cmH2O and four end-inspiratory CT scans (from 19 to 40 cmH2O). Recruitment was defined as the fraction of lung tissue which regained inflation. The atelectrauma was estimated as the difference between the intratidal tissue collapse at 5 and 15 cmH2O PEEP. Lung ventilation inhomogeneities were estimated as the ratio of inflation between neighboring lung units.


The lung tissue which is opened between 30 and 45 cmH2O (i.e., always closed at plateau 30 cmH2O) was 10 ± 29, 54 ± 86, 162 ± 92, and 185 ± 134 g in mild, moderate, and severe ARDS without and with ECMO, respectively (p < 0.05 mild versus severe without or with ECMO). The intratidal collapses were similar at PEEP 5 and 15 cmH2O (63 ± 26 vs 39 ± 32 g in mild ARDS, p = 0.23; 92 ± 53 vs 78 ± 142 g in moderate ARDS, p = 0.76; 110 ± 91 vs 89 ± 93, p = 0.57 in severe ARDS without ECMO; 135 ± 100 vs 104 ± 80, p = 0.32 in severe ARDS with ECMO). Increasing the applied airway pressure up to 45 cmH2O decreased the lung inhomogeneity slightly (but significantly) in mild and moderate ARDS, but not in severe ARDS.


Data show that the prerequisites of the open lung strategy are not satisfied using PEEP up to 15 cmH2O and plateau pressure up to 30 cmH2O. For an effective open lung strategy, higher pressures are required. Therefore, risks of atelectrauma must be weighted versus risks of volutrauma.

Trial registration identifier: NCT01670747 (


Volutrauma Atelectrauma ARDS Lung recruitment Opening pressure 



The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Luigi Camporota for his precious comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Dr. Cressoni and Dr. Gattinoni hold an Italian patent for determination of lung inhomogeneities (0001409041). On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there are no other conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

134_2017_4754_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (630 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 629 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimo Cressoni
    • 1
  • Davide Chiumello
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ilaria Algieri
    • 1
  • Matteo Brioni
    • 3
  • Chiara Chiurazzi
    • 1
  • Andrea Colombo
    • 1
  • Angelo Colombo
    • 4
  • Francesco Crimella
    • 1
  • Mariateresa Guanziroli
    • 1
  • Ivan Tomic
    • 5
  • Tommaso Tonetti
    • 6
  • Giordano Luca Vergani
    • 3
  • Eleonora Carlesso
    • 1
  • Vladimir Gasparovic
    • 5
  • Luciano Gattinoni
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Medico-Chirurgica e dei TrapiantiUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze della SaluteUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  3. 3.Struttura Complessa Anestesia e Rianimazione ASST Santi Paolo e CarloMilanItaly
  4. 4.Ospedale Maggiore PoliclinicoMilanItaly
  5. 5.Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Rebro HospitalUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  6. 6.Department of Anesthesiology, Emergency and Intensive Care MedicineUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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