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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27577. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027577. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Stable small animal ventilation for dynamic lung imaging to support computational fluid dynamics models.

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  • 1Biological Monitoring and Modeling, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, United States of America.


Pulmonary computational fluid dynamics models require that three-dimensional images be acquired over multiple points in the dynamic breathing cycle without breath holds or changes in ventilatory mechanics. With small animals, these requirements can result in long imaging times (∼90 minutes), over which lung mechanics, such as compliance, may gradually change if not carefully monitored and controlled. These changes, caused by derecruitment of parenchymal tissue, are manifested as an upward drift in peak inspiratory pressure (PIP) or by changes in the pressure waveform and/or lung volume over the course of the experiment. We demonstrate highly repeatable mechanical ventilation in anesthetized rats over a long duration for dynamic lung x-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging. We describe significant updates to a basic commercial ventilator that was acquired for these experiments. Key to achieving consistent results was the implementation of periodic deep breaths, or sighs, of extended duration to maintain lung recruitment. In addition, continuous monitoring of breath-to-breath pressure and volume waveforms and long-term trends in PIP and flow provide diagnostics of changes in breathing mechanics.

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