Acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are life-threatening diseases in critically ill patients. The mortality rate is between 35 and 40%.

ALI and ARDS are the manifestations of an inflammatory response of the lung to both direct and indirect insults. Factors that may lead to ALI and ARDS include: sepsis, pneumonia, aspiration, shock, trauma, pancreatitis and burns.

These diseases are characterized by severe hypoxemia, hypercapnia, diffuse infiltration in the chest X-ray and a substantial reduction in pulmonary compliance.

Source: National Institutes of Health