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41st Aspen Lung Conference: Overview*

Thomas L. Petty, MD, Master FCCP
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*From Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital, Denver, CO.

Correspondence to: Thomas L. Petty, MD, Master FCCP, University of Colorado Health Science Center, 1850 High St, Denver, CO 80218



Chest. 1999;116(suppl_1):1S-2S. doi:10.1378/chest.116.suppl_1.1S-a
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A variety of catastrophic events have been known to lead to acute lung injury since World War I. Early terms for acute lung injury were “shock lung,” “postperfusion lung,” “traumatic wet lung,” and “congestive atelectasis.” These massive lung injury states were described only following autopsies. In the mid 1960s, the Denver group recognized a common denominator in patients who had suffered shock, trauma, overwhelming infections, and miscellaneous other conditions that resulted in the dramatic onset of acute respiratory distress, refractory hypoxemia, bilateral symmetric pulmonary infiltrates, and reduced lung compliance. Five of 12 patients survived with the application of mechanical ventilation and the use of positive end-expiratory pressure. This clinical state was first described as “acute respiratory distress in adults” and later as ARDS.12 The “adult designation,” however, was inappropriate, since the youngest patient in our original series was 11 years old, and the next oldest was 15 years old. The mean age was 29.4 years.

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