Diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

ARDS is diagnosed primarily on the basis of the following clinical features:

  • Chest x-ray abnormalities (e.g., presence of fluid in the alveolar space of both lungs; changes on x-ray may lag several hours behind functional changes detected in arterial blood gas analysis)
  • Abnormalities in the arterial blood gas analysis that reflect difficulties in achieving sufficient oxygen levels in the blood
  • Absence of clinical evidence of left atrial hypertension of other causes of diffuse pulmonary infiltrates (e.g., congestive heart failure, pulmonary hemorrhage)
  • Abnormally low blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 04 Dec 2000

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015