Stress and strain within the lung

Luciano Gattinoni, Eleonora Carlesso, Pietro Caironi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: To describe the physiological meaning and the clinical application of the lung stress and strain concepts. Recent Findings: The end-inspiratory plateau pressure and ratio of tidal volume/ideal body weight are inadequate surrogates for the end-inspiratory stress (equal to the transpulmonary pressure) and the end-inspiratory strain (change in lung volume relative to the resting volume). For a given plateau pressure or tidal volume/ideal body weight, stress and strain may vary largely due to the variability of chest wall elastance and the resting lung volume. The injurious limits of stress and strain in healthy lungs are reached when stress and strain reach the total lung capacity. This occurs when the resting lung volume (the baby lung in case of acute respiratory distress syndrome) is increased by two-fold to three-fold. As these limits are rarely reached in clinical practice and damage has been reported with stress and strain well below this upper limit, this implies the presence in the lung parenchyma of regions which act as stress raisers or pressure multipliers. These are primarily linked to the inhomogeneous distribution of local stress and strain. Summary: End-inspiratory stress and strain, as well as the lung inhomogeneity and the stress raisers, must be taken in account when setting mechanical ventilation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Critical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • airway plateau pressure
  • lung stress and strain
  • lung volume
  • stress raisers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Stress and strain within the lung'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this