What do mechanical ventilatory peak and plateau pressures indicate regarding complications in the emergency department (ED)?

Updated: Apr 07, 2020
  • Author: Allon Amitai, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Measurement of peak pressures and plateau pressures may be helpful in identifying the location of resistance, especially if graphical representation of airway pressures is available. Peak pressure, which reflects resistance to airflow, is measured by the ventilator during inspiration. Plateau pressure is thought to reflect pulmonary compliance and can be measured by applying a brief inspiratory pause after ventilation. High peak pressure with normal plateau pressures indicates increased resistance to flow, such as endotracheal tube obstruction or bronchospasm. An increase in both peak and plateau pressures suggest decreased lung compliance, which may be seen in disease states such as pneumonia, ARDS, pulmonary edema, and abdominal distention.

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