Changes in shunt, ventilation/perfusion mismatch, and lung aeration with PEEP in patients with ARDS: A prospective single-arm interventional study

Dan Stieper Karbing, Mauro Panigada, Nicola Bottino, Elena Spinelli, Alessandro Protti, Stephen Edward Rees, Luciano Gattinoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Several studies have found only a weak to moderate correlation between oxygenation and lung aeration in response to changes in PEEP. This study aimed to investigate the association between changes in shunt, low and high ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) mismatch, and computed tomography-measured lung aeration following an increase in PEEP in patients with ARDS. Methods: In this preliminary study, 12 ARDS patients were subjected to recruitment maneuvers followed by setting PEEP at 5 and then either 15 or 20 cmH2O. Lung aeration was measured by computed tomography. Values of pulmonary shunt and low and high V/Q mismatch were calculated by a model-based method from measurements of oxygenation, ventilation, and metabolism taken at different inspired oxygen levels and an arterial blood gas sample. Results: Increasing PEEP resulted in reduced values of pulmonary shunt and the percentage of non-aerated tissue, and an increased percentage of normally aerated tissue (p < 0.05). Changes in shunt and normally aerated tissue were significantly correlated (r = - 0.665, p = 0.018). Three distinct responses to increase in PEEP were observed in values of shunt and V/Q mismatch: a beneficial response in seven patients, where shunt decreased without increasing high V/Q; a detrimental response in four patients where both shunt and high V/Q increased; and a detrimental response in a patient with reduced shunt but increased high V/Q mismatch. Non-aerated tissue decreased with increased PEEP in all patients, and hyperinflated tissue increased only in patients with a detrimental response in shunt and V/Q mismatch. Conclusions: The results show that improved lung aeration following an increase in PEEP is not always consistent with reduced shunt and V/Q mismatch. Poorly matched redistribution of ventilation and perfusion, between dependent and non-dependent regions of the lung, may explain why patients showed detrimental changes in shunt and V/Q mismatch on increase in PEEP, despite improved aeration. Trial registration:, NCT04067154. Retrospectively registered on August 26, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 23 2020


  • ARDS
  • CT
  • Lung aeration
  • PEEP
  • Shunt
  • Ventilation/perfusion mismatch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Changes in shunt, ventilation/perfusion mismatch, and lung aeration with PEEP in patients with ARDS: A prospective single-arm interventional study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this