Esophageal balloons are used in the respiratory monitoring of critical care patients. After the esophageal pressure is measured, the corresponding pleural pressure in the thorax can be projected, enabling lung-thorax compliance to be partitioned into chest-wall compliance and lung compliance. The esophageal balloon allows determination of transpulmonary pressures and a correspondingly individually tailored approach to respiratory care, such as patient-specific titration of positive end-expiratory pressure for patients with extrapulmonary acute respiratory distress syndrome. Esophageal balloon monitoring provides critical information for selecting ventilation strategies to use in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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