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Intraoperative ventilation: incidence and risk factors for receiving large tidal volumes during general anesthesia

Ana Fernandez-Bustamante1*, Cristina L Wood1, Zung V Tran2 and Pierre Moine1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Colorado, USA

2 Department of Biostatistics and Informatics, University of Colorado, USA

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BMC Anesthesiology 2011, 11:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2253-11-22

Published: 21 November 2011



There is a growing concern of the potential injurious role of ventilatory over-distention in patients without lung injury. No formal guidelines exist for intraoperative ventilation settings, but the use of tidal volumes (VT) under 10 mL/kg predicted body weight (PBW) has been recommended in healthy patients. We explored the incidence and risk factors for receiving large tidal volumes (VT > 10 mL/kg PBW).


We performed a cross-sectional analysis of our prospectively collected perioperative electronic database for current intraoperative ventilation practices and risk factors for receiving large tidal volumes (VT > 10 mL/kg PBW). We included all adults undergoing prolonged (≥ 4 h) elective abdominal surgery and collected demographic, preoperative (comorbidities), intraoperative (i.e. ventilatory settings, fluid administration) and postoperative (outcomes) information. We compared patients receiving exhaled tidal volumes > 10 mL/kg PBW with those that received 8-10 or < 8 mL/kg PBW with univariate and logistic regression analyses.


Ventilatory settings were non-uniform in the 429 adults included in the analysis. 17.5% of all patients received VT > 10 mL/kg PBW. 34.0% of all obese patients (body mass index, BMI, ≥ 30), 51% of all patients with a height < 165 cm, and 34.6% of all female patients received VT > 10 mL/kg PBW.


Ventilation with VT > 10 mL/kg PBW is still common, although poor correlation with PBW suggests it may be unintentional. BMI ≥ 30, female gender and height < 165 cm may predispose to receive large tidal volumes during general anesthesia. Further awareness of patients' height and PBW is needed to improve intraoperative ventilation practices. The impact on clinical outcome needs confirmation.