Effect of mechanical power on intensive care mortality in ARDS patients

Silvia Coppola, Alessio Caccioppola, Sara Froio, Paolo Formenti, Valentina De Giorgis, Valentina Galanti, Dario Consonni, Davide Chiumello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In ARDS patients, mechanical ventilation should minimize ventilator-induced lung injury. The mechanical power which is the energy per unit time released to the respiratory system according to the applied tidal volume, PEEP, respiratory rate, and flow should reflect the ventilator-induced lung injury. However, similar levels of mechanical power applied in different lung sizes could be associated to different effects. The aim of this study was to assess the role both of the mechanical power and of the transpulmonary mechanical power, normalized to predicted body weight, respiratory system compliance, lung volume, and amount of aerated tissue on intensive care mortality. Methods: Retrospective analysis of ARDS patients previously enrolled in seven published studies. All patients were sedated, paralyzed, and mechanically ventilated. After 20 min from a recruitment maneuver, partitioned respiratory mechanics measurements and blood gas analyses were performed with a PEEP of 5 cmH2O while the remaining setting was maintained unchanged from the baseline. A whole lung CT scan at 5 cmH2O of PEEP was performed to estimate the lung gas volume and the amount of well-inflated tissue. Univariate and multivariable Poisson regression models with robust standard error were used to calculate risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals of ICU mortality. Results: Two hundred twenty-two ARDS patients were included; 88 (40%) died in ICU. Mechanical power was not different between survivors and non-survivors 14.97 [11.51-18.44] vs. 15.46 [12.33-21.45] J/min and did not affect intensive care mortality. The multivariable robust regression models showed that the mechanical power normalized to well-inflated tissue (RR 2.69 [95% CI 1.10-6.56], p = 0.029) and the mechanical power normalized to respiratory system compliance (RR 1.79 [95% CI 1.16-2.76], p = 0.008) were independently associated with intensive care mortality after adjusting for age, SAPS II, and ARDS severity. Also, transpulmonary mechanical power normalized to respiratory system compliance and to well-inflated tissue significantly increased intensive care mortality (RR 1.74 [1.11-2.70], p = 0.015; RR 3.01 [1.15-7.91], p = 0.025). Conclusions: In our ARDS population, there is not a causal relationship between the mechanical power itself and mortality, while mechanical power normalized to the compliance or to the amount of well-aerated tissue is independently associated to the intensive care mortality. Further studies are needed to confirm this data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number246
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 24 2020


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Compliance
  • Intensive care mortality
  • Lung size
  • Mechanical power
  • Ventilator-induced lung injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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