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Crit Care. 2000;4(2):91-100. Epub 2000 Mar 21.

Measurement of pressure-volume curves in patients on mechanical ventilation: methods and significance.

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  • 1University of Paris VI, Paris, France.


Physiological background concerning mechanics of the respiratory system, techniques of measurement and clinical implications of pressure-volume curve measurement in mechanically ventilated patients are discussed in the present review. The significance of lower and upper inflection points, the assessment of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP)-induced alveolar recruitment and overdistension and rationale for optimizing ventilatory settings in patients with acute lung injury are presented. Evidence suggests that the continuous flow method is a simple and reliable technique for measuring pressure-volume curves at the bedside. In patients with acute respiratory failure, determination of lower and upper inflection points and measurement of respiratory compliance should become a part of the routine assessment of lung injury severity, allowing a bedside monitoring of the evolution of the lung disease and an optimization of mechanical ventilation.

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