Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) during anaesthesia for prevention of mortality and postoperative pulmonary complications

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Background: General anaesthesia causes atelectasis, which can lead to impaired respiratory function. Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) is a mechanical manoeuvre that increases functional residual capacity (FRC) and prevents collapse of the airways, thereby reducing atelectasis. It is not known whether intraoperative PEEP alters the risks of postoperative mortality and pulmonary complications. This review was originally published in 2010 and was updated in 2013. Objectives: To assess the benefits and harms of intraoperative PEEP in terms of postoperative mortality and pulmonary outcomes in all adult surgical patients. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) 2013, Issue 10, part of The Cochrane Library, as well as MEDLINE (via Ovid) (1966 to October 2013), EMBASE (via Ovid) (1980 to October 2013), CINAHL (via EBSCOhost) (1982 to October 2013), ISI Web of Science (1945 to October 2013) and LILACS (via BIREME interface) (1982 to October 2010). The original search was performed in January 2010. Selection criteria: We included randomized clinical trials assessing the effects of PEEP versus no PEEP during general anaesthesia on postoperative mortality and postoperative respiratory complications in adults, 16 years of age and older. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently selected papers, assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted study authors to ask for additional information, when necessary. We calculated the number of additional participants needed (information size) to make reliable conclusions. Main results: This updated review includes two new randomized trials. In total, 10 randomized trials with 432 participants and four comparisons are included in this review. One trial had a low risk of bias. No differences were demonstrated in mortality, with risk ratio (RR) of 0.97 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.20 to 4.59; P value 0.97; 268 participants, six trials, very low quality of evidence (grading of recommendations assessment, development and evaluation (GRADE)), and in pneumonia, with RR of 0.40 (95% CI 0.11 to 1.39; P value 0.15; 120 participants, three trials, very low quality of evidence (GRADE)). Statistically significant results included the following: The PEEP group had higher arterial oxygen pressure (PaO2)/fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) on day one postoperatively, with a mean difference of 22.98 (95% CI 4.40 to 41.55; P value 0.02; 80 participants, two trials, very low quality of evidence (GRADE)), and postoperative atelectasis (defined as an area of collapsed lung, quantified by computerized tomography scan) was less in the PEEP group (standard mean difference -1.2, 95% CI -1.78 to -0.79; P value 0.00001; 88 participants, two trials, very low quality of evidence (GRADE)). No adverse events were reported in the three trials that adequately measured these outcomes (barotrauma and cardiac complications). Using information size calculations, we estimated that a further 21,200 participants would have to be randomly assigned to allow a reliable conclusion about PEEP and mortality. Authors' conclusions: Evidence is currently insufficient to permit conclusions about whether intraoperative PEEP alters risks of postoperative mortality and respiratory complications among undifferentiated surgical patients.




Barbosa, F. T., Castro, A. A., & de Sousa-Rodrigues, C. F. (2014, June 12). Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) during anaesthesia for prevention of mortality and postoperative pulmonary complications. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007922.pub3

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