The term acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) was first coined in 1967 to define a clinical syndrome categorized by progressive hypoxemia, dyspnea, and increased work of breathing that is unresponsive to standard respiratory therapy. Acute respiratory distress syndrome presents as acute respiratory failure with noncardiogenic pulmonary edema and severe hypoxemia. Historically, this syndrome of potentially fatal pulmonary complications described in critically ill patients was further divided into acute lung injury (ALI) and ARDS, with ALI representing a more mild presentation of ARDS. More recently, the concept of ALI has been replaced with mild, moderate, and severe classifications for ARDS.

Despite the substantial progress made in understanding the mechanism of this disease process, ARDS continues to be a major clinical concern. The estimated prevalence in the intensive care unit (ICU) ranges from 4% to 9%, with up to 50% of...

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