Airway Pressure Release Ventilation: A Review of the Evidence, Theoretical Benefits, and Alternative Titration Strategies

Andrew S. Fredericks, Matthew P. Bunker, Louise A. Gliga, Callie G. Ebeling, Jenny R.B. Ringqvist, Hooman Heravi, James Manley, Jason Valladares, Bryan T. Romito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the theoretical benefits of airway pressure release ventilation (APRV), summarize the evidence for its use in clinical practice, and discuss different titration strategies. Data Source: Published randomized controlled trials in humans, observational human studies, animal studies, review articles, ventilator textbooks, and editorials. Data Summary: Airway pressure release ventilation optimizes alveolar recruitment, reduces airway pressures, allows for spontaneous breathing, and offers many hemodynamic benefits. Despite these physiologic advantages, there are inconsistent data to support the use of APRV over other modes of ventilation. There is considerable heterogeneity in the application of APRV among providers and a shortage of information describing initiation and titration strategies. To date, no direct comparison studies of APRV strategies have been performed. This review describes 2 common management approaches that bedside providers can use to optimally tailor APRV to their patients. Conclusion: Airway pressure release ventilation remains a form of mechanical ventilation primarily used for refractory hypoxemia. It offers unique physiological advantages over other ventilatory modes, and providers must be familiar with different titration methods. Given its inconsistent outcome data and heterogeneous use in practice, future trials should directly compare APRV strategies to determine the optimal management approach.


  • Hypoxia
  • lung diffusion
  • respiratory disease
  • respiratory failure
  • ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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