Which medications are used in the treatment 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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Small sepsis trials suggest a potential role for antibody to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and recombinant interleukin (IL)–1 receptor antagonist. Inhaled nitric oxide (NO), a potent pulmonary vasodilator, seemed promising in early trials, but in larger controlled trials, it did not change mortality rates in adults with ARDS. A systematic review, meta-analysis, and trial sequential analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials, including 1303 patients, found that inhaled nitric oxide did not reduce mortality and results in only a transient improvement in oxygenation. [30] Inhaled prostacyclin also has not been shown to improve survival.

Because of apparent benefit in small trials, it was thought that there might be a role for high-dose corticosteroid therapy in patients with late (fibroproliferative phase) ARDS. [60] However, an ARDS Study Network trial of methylprednisolone for patients with ARDS persisting for at least 7 days demonstrated no benefit in terms of 60-day mortality. [61] Patients treated later in the course of ARDS, 14 days after onset, had worsened mortality with corticosteroid therapy.

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