The optimal level of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) in acute respiratory distress syndrome patients is still controversial and has gained renewed interest in the era of 'lung protective ventilation strategies'. Despite experimental evidence that higher levels of PEEP protect against ventilator-induced lung injury, recent clinical trials have failed to demonstrate clear survival benefits. The open-lung protective ventilation strategy combines lung recruitment maneuvers with a decremental PEEP trial aimed at finding the minimum level of PEEP that prevents the lung from collapsing. This approach to PEEP titration is more likely to exert its protective effects and is clearly different from the one used in previous clinical trials
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