Mechanical ventilation is the most used short-term life support technique worldwide and is applied daily for a diverse spectrum of indications, from scheduled surgical procedures to acute organ failure. This state-of-the-art review provides an update on the basic physiology of respiratory mechanics, the working principles, and the main ventilatory settings, as well as the potential complications of mechanical ventilation. Specific ventilatory approaches in particular situations such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are detailed along with protective ventilation in patients with normal lungs. We also highlight recent data on patient-ventilator dyssynchrony, humidified high-flow oxygen through nasal cannula, extracorporeal life support, and the weaning phase. Finally, we discuss the future of mechanical ventilation, addressing avenues for improvement.





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