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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Apr;112(7):1105-13. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01120.2011. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

Respiratory mechanics during high-frequency oscillatory ventilation: a physical model and preterm infant study.

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Division of Newborn Medicine, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA, USA.


Accurate mechanics measurements during high-frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) facilitate optimizing ventilator support settings. Yet, these are influenced substantially by endotracheal tube (ETT) contributions, which may dominate when leaks around uncuffed ETT are present. We hypothesized that 1) the effective removal of ETT leaks may be confirmed via direct comparison of measured vs. model-predicted mean intratracheal pressure [mPtr (meas) vs. mPtr (pred)], and 2) reproducible respiratory system resistance (Rrs) and compliance (Crs) may be derived from no-leak oscillatory Ptr and proximal flow. With the use of ETT test-lung models, proximal airway opening (Pao) and distal (Ptr) pressures and flows were measured during slow-cuff inflations until leaks are removed. These were repeated for combinations of HFOV settings [frequency, mean airway pressure (Paw), oscillation amplitudes (ΔP), and inspiratory time (%t(I))] and varying test-lung Crs. Results showed that leaks around the ETT will 1) systematically reduce the effective distending pressures and lung-delivered oscillatory volumes, and 2) derived mechanical properties are increasingly nonphysiologic as leaks worsen. Mean pressures were systematically reduced along the ventilator circuit and ETT (Paw > Pao > Ptr), even for no-leak conditions. ETT size-specific regression models were then derived for predicting mPtr based on mean Pao (mPao), ΔP, %t(I), and frequency. Next, in 10 of 11 studied preterm infants (0.77 ± 0.24 kg), no-to-minimal leak was confirmed based on excellent agreement between mPtr (meas) and mPtr (pred), and consequently, their oscillatory respiratory mechanics were evaluated. Infant resistance at the proximal ETT (R(ETT); resistance airway opening = R(ETT) + Rrs; P < 0.001) and ETT inertance (P = 0.014) increased significantly with increasing ΔP (50%, 100%, and 150% baseline), whereas Rrs showed a modest, nonsignificant increase (P = 0.14), and Crs was essentially unchanged (P = 0.39). We conclude that verifying no-leak conditions is feasible by comparison of model-derived vs. distending mPtr (meas). This facilitated the reliable and accurate assessment of physiologic respiratory mechanical properties that can objectively guide ventilatory management of HFOV-treated preterm infants.

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