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Respiration. 2014;87(1):75-83. doi: 10.1159/000354787. Epub 2013 Nov 28.

Optimization of positive end-expiratory pressure by volumetric capnography variables in lavage-induced acute lung injury.

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  • 1Department of Critical Care Medicine, Zhong-Da Hospital, Southeast University School of Medicine, Nanjing, PR China.



In the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), lung-protective ventilation strategies combine the delivery of small tidal volumes (VT) with sufficient positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP). However, an optimal approach guiding the setting of PEEP has not been defined. Monitoring volumetric capnography is useful to detect changes in lung aeration.


The aim of this study was to determine whether volumetric capnography may be a useful method to determine the optimal PEEP in ARDS.


In 8 lung-lavaged piglets, PEEP was reduced from 20 to 4 cm H2O in steps of 4 cm H2O every 10 min followed by full lung recruitment. Volumetric capnography, respiratory mechanics, blood gas analysis, hemodynamic data and whole-lung computed tomography scans were obtained at each PEEP level.


After lung recruitment, end-expiratory lung volume progressively decreased from 1,160 ± 273 ml at PEEP 20 cm H2O to 314 ± 86 ml at PEEP 4 cm H2O. The ratio of alveolar dead space (VDalv) to alveolar VT (VTalv) and the phase III slope of volumetric capnography (SIII) reached a minimum at PEEP 16 cm H2O. At this PEEP level, overaerated lung regions were significantly reduced, nonaerated lung regions did not increase, and partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood/fraction of inspired oxygen (P/F) and static respiratory system compliance (Crs) reached a maximum. At PEEP levels <16 cm H2O, nonaerated lung regions significantly increased, P/F and Crs deteriorated, and VDalv/VTalv and SIII began to increase.


In this surfactant-depleted model, PEEP at the lowest VDalv/VTalv and SIII allows an optimal balance between lung overinflation and collapse. Hence, volumetric capnography is a useful bedside approach to identify the optimal PEEP.

© 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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