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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (cont.)

What are the exams and tests for ARDS?

  • Arterial blood gas analysis reveals hypoxemia (reduced levels of oxygen in the blood).
  • A complete blood count may be taken. The number of white blood cells is increased in sepsis.
  • Chest X-ray will show the presence of fluid in the lungs.
  • CT scan of the chest may be required only in some situations (routine chest X-ray is sufficient in most cases).
  • Echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) may help exclude any heart problems that can cause fluid build-up in the lung.
  • Monitoring with a pulmonary artery catheter may be done to exclude a cardiac cause for the difficulty in breathing.
  • Bronchoscopy (a procedure used to look inside the windpipe and large airways of the lung) may be considered to evaluate the possibility of lung infection.

What is the treatment for ARDS?

  • Persons with ARDS are hospitalized and require treatment in an intensive care unit.
  • No specific therapy for ARDS exists.
  • Treatment is primarily supportive using a mechanical respirator and supplemental oxygen.
  • Intravenous fluids are given to provide nutrition and prevent dehydration, and are carefully monitored to prevent fluid from accumulating in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
  • Because infection is often the underlying cause of ARDS, appropriate antibiotic therapy is administered.
  • Corticosteroids may sometimes be administered in ARDS or if the patient is in shock, but their use is controversial.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/15/2016
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