The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has been recognized for more than three decades as a cause of respiratory failure in patients with a variety of illnesses. Clinically, it is characterized by pulmonary edema, refractory hypoxemia, diffuse pulmonary infiltrates, and altered lung compliance. Pathologically, it is distinguished by infiltration of the lungs with inflammatory cells, interstitial and alveolar edema, hyaline membrane formation, and ultimately fibrosis. Although we have learned much about the pathophysiology of this inflammatory syndrome since its earliest descriptions, ARDS continues to claim the lives of 40%–70% of its victims. Many treatment strategies have been used to prevent or treat ARDS, but thus far the most encouraging strategy to prevent lung injury and improve survival is mechanical ventilation with low tidal volumes and high levels of positive end-expiratory pressure.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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