Unmatched ventilation and perfusion measured by electrical impedance tomography predicts the outcome of ARDS

Elena Spinelli, Michael Kircher, Birgit Stender, Irene Ottaviani, Maria C. Basile, Ines Marongiu, Giulia Colussi, Giacomo Grasselli, Antonio Pesenti, Tommaso Mauri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), non-ventilated perfused regions coexist with non-perfused ventilated regions within lungs. The number of unmatched regions might reflect ARDS severity and affect the risk of ventilation-induced lung injury. Despite pathophysiological relevance, unmatched ventilation and perfusion are not routinely assessed at the bedside. The aims of this study were to quantify unmatched ventilation and perfusion at the bedside by electrical impedance tomography (EIT) investigating their association with mortality in patients with ARDS and to explore the effects of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) on unmatched ventilation and perfusion in subgroups of patients with different ARDS severity based on PaO2/FiO2 and compliance. Methods: Prospective observational study in 50 patients with mild (36%), moderate (46%), and severe (18%) ARDS under clinical ventilation settings. EIT was applied to measure the regional distribution of ventilation and perfusion using central venous bolus of saline 5% during end-inspiratory pause. We defined unmatched units as the percentage of only ventilated units plus the percentage of only perfused units. Results: Percentage of unmatched units was significantly higher in non-survivors compared to survivors (32[27–47]% vs. 21[17–27]%, p < 0.001). Percentage of unmatched units was an independent predictor of mortality (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.07–1.39, p = 0.004) with an area under the ROC curve of 0.88 (95% CI 0.79–0.97, p < 0.001). The percentage of ventilation to the ventral region of the lung was higher than the percentage of ventilation to the dorsal region (32 [27–38]% vs. 18 [13–21]%, p < 0.001), while the opposite was true for perfusion (28 [22–38]% vs. 36 [32–44]%, p < 0.001). Higher percentage of only perfused units was correlated with lower dorsal ventilation (r = − 0.486, p < 0.001) and with lower PaO2/FiO2 ratio (r = − 0.293, p = 0.039). Conclusions: EIT allows bedside assessment of unmatched ventilation and perfusion in mechanically ventilated patients with ARDS. Measurement of unmatched units could identify patients at higher risk of death and could guide personalized treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number192
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Electrical impedance tomography
  • Positive end expiratory pressure
  • Ventilation/perfusion matching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Unmatched ventilation and perfusion measured by electrical impedance tomography predicts the outcome of ARDS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this