Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a multisystem disorder with a mortality rate greater than 50%. It is characterized by lung injury secondary to a major insult to the system such as shock, gram-negative sepsis, multiple trauma, or cardiopulmonary bypass. ARDS can occur from within a few minutes after the initial insult to 4 or 5 days later. It is characterized by a falling PaO2 despite an increase in FI(O2) and/or use of mechanical ventilation. The pathophysiology involves right-to-left shunt. Positive end-expiratory pressure can be helpful in managing the condition while underlying problems are corrected.
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