We included seven new RCTs (536 participants) in the update.
In total, we included 19 studies in the review (776 participants in the low tidal volume group and 772 in the high volume group). There are four studies awaiting classification and three are ongoing. All included studies were at some risk of bias. Participants were scheduled for abdominal surgery, heart surgery, pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, spinal surgery and knee surgery. Low tidal volumes used in the studies varied from 6 mL/kg to 8.1 mL/kg while high tidal volumes varied from 10 mL/kg to 12 mL/kg.
Based on 12 studies including 1207 participants, the effects of low volume ventilation on 0- to 30-day mortality were uncertain (risk ratio (RR) 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42 to 1.53; I2 = 0%; low-quality evidence). Based on seven studies including 778 participants, lower tidal volumes probably reduced postoperative pneumonia (RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.82; I2 = 0%; moderate-quality evidence; NNTB 24, 95% CI 16 to 160), and it probably reduced the need for non-invasive postoperative ventilatory support based on three studies including 506 participants (RR 0.31, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.64; moderate-quality evidence; NNTB 13, 95% CI 11 to 24). Based on 11 studies including 957 participants, low tidal volumes during surgery probably decreased the need for postoperative invasive ventilatory support (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.77; I2 = 0%; NNTB 39, 95% CI 30 to 166; moderate-quality evidence). Based on five studies including 898 participants, there may be little or no difference in the intensive care unit length of stay (standardized mean difference (SMD) –0.06, 95% CI –0.22 to 0.10; I2 = 33%; low-quality evidence). Based on 14 studies including 1297 participants, low tidal volumes may have reduced hospital length of stay by about 0.8 days (SMD –0.15, 95% CI –0.29 to 0.00; I2 = 27%; low-quality evidence). Based on five studies including 708 participants, the effects of low volume ventilation on barotrauma (pneumothorax) were uncertain (RR 1.77, 95% CI 0.52 to 5.99; I2 = 0%; very low-quality evidence).