Effect of Intensive vs Moderate Alveolar Recruitment Strategies Added to Lung-Protective Ventilation on Postoperative Pulmonary Complications: A Randomised Clinical Trial

This randomised clinical trial by Costa Leme et al was published in JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association in April 2017.  The published copy is available in Rotherham Health Care Library.  The full text of the article can be accessed with a Rotherham NHS Athens Password via this link.

Perioperative lung-protective ventilation has been recommended to reduce pulmonary complications after cardiac surgery. The protective role of a small tidal volume (VT) has been established, whereas the added protection afforded by alveolar recruiting strategies remains controversial.

Objective:  To determine whether an intensive alveolar recruitment strategy could reduce postoperative pulmonary complications, when added to a protective ventilation with small VT.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Randomized clinical trial of patients with hypoxemia after cardiac surgery at a single ICU in Brazil (December 2011-2014).

Interventions:  Intensive recruitment strategy (n=157) or moderate recruitment strategy (n=163) plus protective ventilation with small VT.

Outcomes and Measures:  Severity of postoperative pulmonary complications computed until hospital discharge, analyzed with a common odds ratio (OR) to detect ordinal shift in distribution of pulmonary complication severity score (0-to-5 scale, 0, no complications; 5, death). Prespecified secondary outcomes were length of stay in the ICU and hospital, incidence of barotrauma, and hospital mortality.

Results:  All 320 patients (median age, 62 years; IQR, 56-69 years; 125 women [39%]) completed the trial. The intensive recruitment strategy group had a mean 1.8 (95% CI, 1.7 to 2.0) and a median 1.7 (IQR, 1.0-2.0) pulmonary complications score vs 2.1 (95% CI, 2.0-2.3) and 2.0 (IQR, 1.5-3.0) for the moderate strategy group. Overall, the distribution of primary outcome scores shifted consistently in favor of the intensive strategy, with a common OR for lower scores of 1.86 (95% CI, 1.22 to 2.83; P = .003). The mean hospital stay for the moderate group was 12.4 days vs 10.9 days in the intensive group (absolute difference, -1.5 days; 95% CI, -3.1 to -0.3; P = .04). The mean ICU stay for the moderate group was 4.8 days vs 3.8 days for the intensive group (absolute difference, -1.0 days; 95% CI, -1.6 to -0.2; P = .01). Hospital mortality (2.5% in the intensive group vs 4.9% in the moderate group; absolute difference, -2.4%, 95% CI, -7.1% to 2.2%) and barotrauma incidence (0% in the intensive group vs 0.6% in the moderate group; absolute difference, -0.6%; 95% CI, -1.8% to 0.6%; P = .51) did not differ significantly between groups.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Among patients with hypoxemia after cardiac surgery, the use of an intensive vs a moderate alveolar recruitment strategy resulted in less severe pulmonary complications while in the hospital.

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