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Respir Care. 2011 Sep;56(9):1298-311; discussion 1311-3. doi: 10.4187/respcare.01429.

Mechanical ventilation of the premature neonate.

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Respiratory Therapy Program, Grossmont Community College, El Cajon, California 92020, USA.


Although the trend in the neonatal intensive care unit is to use noninvasive ventilation whenever possible, invasive ventilation is still often necessary for supporting pre-term neonates with lung disease. Many different ventilation modes and ventilation strategies are available to assist with the optimization of mechanical ventilation and prevention of ventilator-induced lung injury. Patient-triggered ventilation is favored over machine-triggered forms of invasive ventilation for improving gas exchange and patient-ventilator interaction. However, no studies have shown that patient-triggered ventilation improves mortality or morbidity in premature neonates. A promising new form of patient-triggered ventilation, neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA), was recently FDA approved for invasive and noninvasive ventilation. Clinical trials are underway to evaluate outcomes in neonates who receive NAVA. New evidence suggests that volume-targeted ventilation modes (ie, volume control or pressure control with adaptive targeting) may provide better lung protection than traditional pressure control modes. Several volume-targeted modes that provide accurate tidal volume delivery in the face of a large endotracheal tube leak were recently introduced to the clinical setting. There is ongoing debate about whether neonates should be managed invasively with high-frequency ventilation or conventional ventilation at birth. The majority of clinical trials performed to date have compared high-frequency ventilation to pressure control modes. Future trials with premature neonates should compare high-frequency ventilation to conventional ventilation with volume-targeted modes. Over the last decade many new promising approaches to lung-protective ventilation have evolved. The key to protecting the neonatal lung during mechanical ventilation is optimizing lung volume and limiting excessive lung expansion, by applying appropriate PEEP and using shorter inspiratory time, smaller tidal volume (4-6 mL/kg), and permissive hypercapnia. This paper reviews new and established neonatal ventilation modes and strategies and evaluates their impact on neonatal outcomes.

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