Patterns of Use of Adjunctive Therapies in Patients With Early Moderate to Severe ARDS: Insights From the LUNG SAFE Study

LUNG SAFE Investigators and the ESICM Trials Group, Abhijit Duggal, Emanuele Rezoagli, Tài Pham, Bairbre A. McNicholas, Eddy Fan, Giacomo Bellani, Gordon Rubenfeld, Antonio M. Pesenti, John G. Laffey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adjunctive strategies are an important part of the management of ARDS. However, their application in clinical practice remains inconsistent. Research Question: We wished to determine the frequency and patterns of use of adjunctive strategies in patients with moderate to severe ARDS (PaO2/FIO2 [P/F ratio] < 150) enrolled into the Large observational study to UNderstand the Global impact of Severe Acute respiratory FailurE (LUNG SAFE) study. Study Design and Methods: The LUNG SAFE study was an international, multicenter, prospective cohort study of patients with severe respiratory failure, conducted in 2014 in 459 ICUs from 50 countries. The primary objective of this substudy was to determine the frequency of use of widely available (neuromuscular blockade, prone position) adjuncts vs adjuncts requiring specialized equipment (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, inhaled vasodilators, high-frequency ventilation) in patients in the first 48 h of moderate to severe ARDS (P/F ratio < 150). Results: Of 1,146 patients on invasive ventilation with moderate to severe ARDS, 811 patients (71%) received no adjunct within 48 h of ARDS onset. Of 335 (29%) that received adjunctive strategies, 252 (75%) received a single strategy, and 83 (25%) receiving more than one adjunct. Of ARDS nonsurvivors, 67% did not receive any adjunctive strategy in the first 48 h. Most patients (67%) receiving specialized adjuncts did not receive prone positioning or neuromuscular blockade. Patients that received adjuncts were more likely to have their ARDS recognized, be younger and sicker, have pneumonia, be more difficult to ventilate, and be in a European high-income country than those that did not receive adjuncts. Interpretation: Three in 10 patients with moderate to severe ARDS, and only one-third of nonsurvivors, received adjunctive strategies over the first 48 h of ARDS. A more consistent and evidence-driven approach to adjunct use may reduce costs and improve outcomes in patients with moderate to severe ARDS. Trial Registry:; No.: NCT02010073; URL:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1497-1505
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • high-frequency oscillation ventilation
  • neuromuscular blockade
  • nitric oxide
  • prone positioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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