What are the potential hemodynamic complications of PEEP in mechanical ventilation?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Christopher D Jackson, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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A PEEP level of less than 10 cm water rarely causes hemodynamic problems in the absence of intravascular volume depletion. The cardiodepressant effects of PEEP are often minimized with judicious intravascular volume support or cardiac inotropic support. Although peak pressure is related to the development of barotrauma, arterial hypotension is related to the mean airway pressure that may decrease venous return to the heart or decrease right ventricular function.

A PEEP level greater than 10 cm water is generally an accepted indication to monitor cardiac output by using a Swan-Ganz catheter. However, if the patient remains clinically stable with an adequate urine output, then hemodynamic monitoring may not be necessary. When PEEP greater than 10 cm water is necessary, the left atrial filling pressure can be estimated after an adjustment is made for the effect of the PEEP on the transducer of the catheter. The equation commonly used is LAP = PCWP - (PEEP/3), where LAP is left atrial pressure and PCWP is pulmonary capillary wedge pressure.

Withdrawal of PEEP from a patient should not be attempted in most clinical situations until the patient has achieved satisfactory oxygenation with an FIO2 of 40% or less. Formal weaning from PEEP is then undertaken by reducing the PEEP in 3- to 5-cm of water decrements while the hemoglobin-oxygen saturations are monitored. An unacceptable decrease in the hemoglobin-oxygen saturation should prompt the clinician to immediately reinstitute the last PEEP level that provided good hemoglobin-oxygen saturation.

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