Which lung exam findings are characteristic of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)?

Updated: Mar 27, 2020
  • Author: Eloise M Harman, MD; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Examination of the lungs may reveal bilateral rales. Rales may not be present despite widespread involvement. Because the patient is often intubated and mechanically ventilated, decreased breath sounds over 1 lung may indicate a pneumothorax or endotracheal tube down the right main bronchus.

Manifestations of the underlying cause (eg, acute abdominal findings in the case of ARDS caused by pancreatitis) are present.

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