CONTEXT AND OBJECTIVE: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is characterized by arterial hypoxemia, and prone position (PP) is one possible management strategy. The objective here was to evaluate the effects of PP on oxygenation. DESIGN AND SETTING: Non-randomized, open, prospective, controlled clinical trial, in a surgical intensive care unit at a tertiary university hospital. METHODS: Forty-one ARDS patients underwent PP for three-hour periods. Arterial partial oxygen pressure (PaO2) was measured immediately before changing to PP, after 30, 60, 120 and 180 minutes in PP and 60 minutes after returning to dorsal recumbent position (DP). The paired-t and Dunnett tests were used. RESULTS: A notable clinical improvement in oxygenation (> 15%) was detected in 78.0% of patients. This persisted for 60 minutes after returning to DP in 56% and lasted for 12 and 48 hours in 53.6% and 46.3%, respectively. Maximum improvement was seen after 30 minutes in 12.5% of responding patients and after 180 minutes in 40.6%. No statistically significant associations between PP response and age, gender, weight, PEEP level, tidal volume, respiratory rate, PaO2/FiO2 or duration of mechanical ventilation were detected. One accidental extubation and four cases of deterioration through oxygenation were detected. The 48-hour mortality rate was 17%. CONCLUSIONS: For a significant number of ARDS patients, PP may rapidly enhance arterial oxygenation and its inclusion for management of severe ARDS is justified. However, it is not a cost-free maneuver and caution is needed in deciding on using PP.
Prone position; Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Anoxemia; Respiratory insufficiency; Artificial respiration