Author(s): David H Ingbar
At present, we largely lack the ability to correlate the clinical course of ARDS patients with potential factors involved in the biochemical and cellular basis of lung repair. This requires very large patient databases with measurement of many biochemical parameters. Important mechanistic determinants during the repair phase can be sought by correlation with late outcomes, but a large-scale cooperative effort among multiple centers with sharing of follow-up data and patient specimens is essential. We also lack detailed human histologic material from many phases of ARDS and, particularly, know little of the long-term morphologic impact of ARDS in survivors. Establishment of a national registry that follows ARDS survivors and that would seek their cooperation in advance in obtaining autopsy specimens when they die of other causes would be very valuable. Correlating the pathology with their pulmonary function during recovery would give important insights into the reasons for the different patterns of abnormal pulmonary functions. The factors that determine the success of repair are of critical importance in testing new ARDS treatment strategies. Would accelerating the resolution of alveolar edema alter the course of subsequent fibrosis and inflammation? Does surfactant replacement therapy--a costly proposition in adults with ARDS--lead to better long-term outcomes in survivors? How much should we worry about the use of high levels of oxygen for support of arterial partial pressure of oxygen? Is it better to accept hyperoxia to avoid pressure or volume trauma induced by mechanical ventilation with higher minute ventilations? These major management issues all may affect the success of the late repair and recovery process. Intervention trials need to examine the long-term physiologic and functional outcomes.