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Chest. 1992 Jul;102(1):227-33.

Effects of PEEP on respiratory mechanics after open heart surgery.

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Department of Intensive Care, Kuopio University Central Hospital, Finland.

Erratum in

  • Chest 1993 Mar;103(3):984. Elissa NT [corrected to Eissa NT].


Respiratory dysfunction, particularly atelectasis, is common after open heart surgery. Routine use of PEEP (5 to 10 cm H2O) in these patients has been advocated. We studied the effects of different levels of PEEP on respiratory mechanics in ten mechanically ventilated open heart surgery patients in the immediate postoperative period. PEEP was studied in increasing increments and decreasing decrements. This procedure was repeated three times. Flow, tidal volume, and airway pressure were measured. We used the rapid airway occlusion technique to determine static compliance of the respiratory system (Cst,rs) and intrinsic PEEP (PEEPi). The changes in end-expiratory lung volume (delta EELV) were measured with respiratory inductive plethysmography. Recruitment of lung units (Vrec) was estimated as the difference in lung volume between PEEP and zero end-expiratory (ZEEP) for the same static inflation pressure (15 cm H2O). We found that (1) Cst,rs at ZEEP was significantly reduced (60 +/- 2 ml/cm H2O); (2) while PEEP of 5 cm H2O did not cause significant recruitment, higher levels of PEEP (10 to 15 cm H2O) were effective; (3) Cst,rs, Vrec, and delta EELV were higher during stepwise PEEP decrease; (4) after the first and second stepwise PEEP increase-decrease run, there was a small persistent increase in EELV and Cst,rs at ZEEP. No further changes were found after the third run. We conclude that after open heart surgery, PEEP less than 10 cm H2O is not effective to reopen atelectatic lung units.

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