PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Several alternative treatments have been proposed to decrease mortality of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). We will discuss most recent trials and meta-analysis studies on nonconventional ventilatory and pharmacological treatments of ARDS patients. RECENT FINDINGS: Nonconventional ventilatory treatments such as prone positioning, high frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV), and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) aim to restore gas exchange while further decreasing ventilator induced lung injury. Though randomized trials failed to prove survival benefits with the use of prone positioning or HFOV, recent meta-analyses have shown, for both treatments, a decrease in mortality in the subpopulation of more severe ARDS patients. In a randomized controlled trial, referral of ARDS patients in a center with experience on ECMO was associated with an improved survival rate. Promising results come from new miniaturized extracorporeal techniques optimized for effective CO2 removal from low blood flow. These techniques should allow early application of superprotective ventilator strategies. Pharmacological treatments such as neuromuscular blocking and intravenous Î²2 agonist may be effective in specific times and subsets of patients. SUMMARY: Existing data suggest that some of the available nonconventional treatments may be effective in more severe ARDS patients. New techniques and drugs that should facilitate prevention or healing of lung injury are under investigation. Â© 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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