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OBJECTIVE: Ventilation strategies aiming at prevention of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI), including low tidal volumes (VT) and use of positive end-expiratory pressures (PEEP) are increasingly used in critically ill patients. It is uncertain whether ventilation practices changed in a similar way in burn patients. Our objective was to describe applied ventilator settings and their relation to development of VILI in burn patients. DATA SOURCES: Systematic search of the literature in PubMed and EMBASE using MeSH, EMTREE terms and keywords referring to burn or inhalation injury and mechanical ventilation. STUDY SELECTION: Studies reporting ventilator settings in adult or pediatric burn or inhalation injury patients receiving mechanical ventilation during the ICU stay. DATA EXTRACTION: Two authors independently screened abstracts of identified studies for eligibility and performed data extraction. DATA SYNTHESIS: The search identified 35 eligible studies. VT declined from 14 ml/kg in studies performed before to around 8 ml/kg predicted body weight in studies performed after 2006. Low-PEEP levels (<10 cmH2O) were reported in 70% of studies, with no changes over time. Peak inspiratory pressure (PIP) values above 35 cmH2O were frequently reported. Nevertheless, 75% of the studies conducted in the last decade used limited maximum airway pressures (≤35 cmH2O) compared to 45% of studies conducted prior to 2006. Occurrence of barotrauma, reported in 45% of the studies, ranged from 0 to 29%, and was more frequent in patients ventilated with higher compared to lower airway pressures. CONCLUSION: This systematic review shows noticeable trends of ventilatory management in burn patients that mirrors those in critically ill non-burn patients. Variability in available ventilator data precluded us from drawing firm conclusions on the association between ventilator settings and the occurrence of VILI in burn patients.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





762 - 770


Burns, Critically ill, Mechanical ventilation, Protective ventilation, Ventilator–induced lung injury, Barotrauma, Burns, Humans, Positive-Pressure Respiration, Respiration, Artificial, Smoke Inhalation Injury, Tidal Volume, Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury