Purpose of review
To describe current evidence-based practice in the management of acute life-threatening hypoxemia in mechanically ventilated patients and some of the methods used to individualize the care of the patient.
Patients with acute life-threatening hypoxemia will often meet criteria for severe ARDS, for which there are only a few treatment strategies that have been shown to improve survival outcomes. Recent findings have increased our knowledge of the physiological effects of spontaneous breathing and the application of PEEP. Additionally, the use of advanced bedside monitoring has a promising future in the management of hypoxemic patients to fine-tune the ventilator and to evaluate the individual patient response to therapy.
Treating the patient with acute life-threatening hypoxemia during mechanical ventilation should begin with an evidence-based approach, with the goal of improving oxygenation and minimizing the harmful effects of mechanical ventilation. The use of advanced monitoring and the application of simple maneuvers at the bedside may assist clinicians to better individualize treatment and improve clinical outcomes.