Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) were performed in 39 survivors of the adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in whom clinical data had been prospectively collected during the acute episode. PFTs stabilized within 6 months of the episode and had returned to normal in most survivors. Persistent abnormalities were found after 6 months in diffusing capacity (14 of 23 patients, 61%), vital capacity (10 of 23 patients, 43%), and total lung capacity (five of 24 patients, 21%). To clarify the mechanisms underlying these persistent abnormalities, we attempted to correlate long-term PFT outcomes with estimates of the severity of initial lung injury as assessed from clinical data and with other features of the patient's course. The severity of lung function impairment during the first 3 days of ARDS was not related to long-term PFT values. However, a lower DL(CO) was related to a higher AaD(O2), higher pulmonary artery pressure, and worse radiographic appearance on Days 4 through 7 and to the occurrence of sepsis. A lower FVC was related to higher pulmonary vascular resistance in Days 4 through 7 of ARDS. Long-term values for FVC and TLC were directly related to increasing levels of PEEP applied from Days 4 through 7 of ARDS in patients with peak airway pressures less than 50 cm H2O. Long-term abnormalities of pulmonary function of survivors of ARDS were not related to initial lung impairment but were directly related to persistence of impaired lung function during the acute episode. Recovery of lung function may also have been directly related to therapeutic modalities such as PEEP and impaired by the occurrence of sepsis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine