Ventilation-perfusion relationships in the injured lung can sometimes be improved by changes in patient posture. Evidence of a dependent distribution of edema, inflammation, or atelectasis on CT scanning may provide an indication for ventilating patients in the prone position, in an attempt to improve oxygenation by diverting blood flow to non-affected areas of lung. The gravitational nature of the edema means that improvements are often temporary, and frequent switching between the prone and supine positions may be necessary. The procedure is labor intensive and potentially hazardous in unstable patients.
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