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Intensive Care Med. 1999 May;25(5):514-9.

Additional inspiratory work of breathing imposed by tracheostomy tubes and non-ideal ventilator properties in critically ill patients.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.



To determine the tracheostomy tube-related additional work of breathing (WOBadd) in critically ill patients and to show its reduction by different ventilatory modes.


Prospective, clinical study.


Medical ICU of a university teaching hospital.


Standard tracheostomy due to prolonged respiratory failure.


Ten tracheostomized, spontaneously breathing patients were investigated. As the tube resistance depends on gas flow, patients were subdivided according to minute ventilation into a low ventilation group (= 10 l/min; n = 5) and a high ventilation group (> 10 l/min; n = 5). The WOBadd due to tube resistance and non-ideal ventilator properties was calculated on the basis of the tracheal pressure measured. Ventilatory modes investigated were: continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), inspiratory pressure support (IPS) of 5, 10, and 15 cm H2O above PEEP, and automatic tube compensation (ATC). In the low ventilation group, WOBadd during CPAP was 0.382+/-0.106 J/l. It was reduced to below 15% of that value by ATC or IPS more than 5 cm H2O. In the high ventilation group WOBadd during CPAP increased to 0.908+/-0.142 J/l. In this group, however, only ATC was able to reduce WOBadd below 15% of the value observed in the CPAP mode.


The results indicate that, depending on respiratory flow rate, (1) tracheostomy tubes can cause a considerable amount of WOBadd, and (2) ATC, in contrast to IPS, is a suitable mode to compensate for WOBadd at any ventilatory effort of the patient.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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