UMEM Educational Pearls


Lung-protective ventilation with low-tidal volume improves outcome among patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.  The use of low tidal volume ventilation in the Emergency Departments has been shown to provide early benefits for critically ill patients.


A systemic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing outcomes of patients receiving low tidal volume ventilation vs. those who did not receive low tidal volume ventilation.

The authors identified 11 studies with approximately 11000 patients.  The studies were mostly observational studies and there was no randomized trials.

The authors included 10 studies in the analysis, after excluding a single study that suggested Non-low tidal volume ventilation was associated with higher mortality than low tidal volume ventilation (1).


Comparing to those with NON-Low tidal volume ventilation in ED, patients with Low-Tidal volume ventilation in ED were associated with:

  • Significant lower risk of death (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.72-0.88, I2 = 0%),
  • Lower risk of ARDS (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.44-0.75, I2 = 21%),
  • Shorter ICU length of stay (Mean Difference -1.19 days [-2.38, -0.11]),
  • Shorter ventilator-free days (-1.03 days, [-1,74, -0.32]).


  • If the outlying study by Prekker et al was included, there as no significant difference in mortality.
  • Tidal volume in ED has been steadily decreased.  It was approximately 9 ml/kg of predicted body weight when reported in 2009, and was approximately 6.5 mg/kg PBW in 2018.
  • Most ventilator settings in the ED would be continued in the ICU.


Although there was low quality of evidence for low tidal volume ventilation in the ED, Emergency clinicians should continue to consider this strategy.


1. Prekker ME, Donelan C, Ambur S, Driver BE, O'Brien-Lambert A, Hottinger DG, Adams AB. Adoption of low tidal volume ventilation in the emergency department: A quality improvement intervention. Am J Emerg Med. 2020 Apr;38(4):763-767. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2019.06.026. Epub 2019 Jun 15. PMID: 31235218.


2. De Monnin K, Terian E, Yaegar LH, Pappal RD, Mohr NM, Roberts BW, Kollef MH, Palmer CM, Ablordeppey E, Fuller BM. Low Tidal Volume Ventilation for Emergency Department Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on Practice Patterns and Clinical Impact. Crit Care Med. 2022 Jun 1;50(6):986-998. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000005459. Epub 2022 Feb 7. PMID: 35120042.