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[Extreme obesity-particular aspect of invasive and noninvasive ventilation]

M Deppe, P Lebiedz
Medizinische Klinik, Intensivmedizin und Notfallmedizin 2017 September 5
The obesity rate is increasing worldwide and the percentage of obese patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is rising concomitantly. Ventilatory support strategies in obese patients must take into account the altered pathophysiological conditions. Unfortunately, prospective randomized multicenter trials on this subject are lacking. Therefore, current strategies are based on the individual experiences of ICU physicians and single-center studies. Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) in critically ill patients with acute respiratory failure and obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is an efficient treatment option and should be provided as early as possible is an effort to avoid intubation. Patient positioning is also crucial: half-sitting positions (>45°) improve lung compliance and functional residual capacity in patients with respiratory failure. Transpulmonary pressure measurements or the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) Network tables may help to adjust the optimal positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP). The tidal volume should be adapted to the ideal and not the actual bodyweight (Vt  = 6 ml/kg of ideal bodyweight) to avoid lung damage and (additional) right ventricular stress. Under particular conditions, inspiratory pressures >30 cmH2 O may be tolerated for a limited duration. Early tracheostomy combined with termination/reduction of sedation and relaxation is controversy discussed in the literature as a therapeutic option during invasive ventilation of morbidly obese patients. However, data on early tracheotomy in obese respiratory failure patients are rare and this should be regarded as an individual treatment attempt only. In cases of refractory lung failure, venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (vv-ECMO) is an option despite anatomic changes in morbid obesity.


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