Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a type of respiratory failure characterised by rapid onset of widespread inflammation in the lungs.

ARDS was first described in 1967 in a case series of 12 intensive care unit (ICU) patients who shared the common features of unusually persistent tachypnea (shortness of breath) and hypoxemia (less oxygen in arterial blood) accompanied by chest radiograph opacities and poor lung function, despite different underlying causes.

In 2011, a consensus panel of experts agreed on the following "Berlin Definition" of ARDS[1]:

  • rapid onset (of respiratory failure)
  • opacities of both lungs (on chest radiography)
  • not explained by heart failure
  • hypoxemia (grading severity of ARDS by the grade of hypoxemia measured in arterial blood tests compared to the fraction of oxygen in inspired air)