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Respir Care. 2018 Feb;63(2):177-186. doi: 10.4187/respcare.05685. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

Measurements Obtained From Esophageal Balloon Catheters Are Affected by the Esophageal Balloon Filling Volume in Children With ARDS.

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Department of Respiratory Care, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, CA.
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, CA.
Department of Respiratory Care, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, CA.
Department of Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.



Esophageal balloon inflation volume may affect the accuracy of transpulmo-nary pressure estimates in adults, but the effect is unknown in pediatrics. Using a combination bench and human study, we sought to determine a range of optimal filling volumes for esophageal balloon catheters and to derive a technique to inflate catheters to yield the most accurate estimates of pleural pressure.


In the laboratory study, we evaluated 4 pediatric and adult esophageal balloon catheters, a liquid-filled catheter, and a micro-tip catheter, both with and without a model esophagus. We compared the measured esophageal pressure for each type of catheter within a pressurized chamber. Esophageal balloon catheters were also tested by manipulating the esophageal balloon inflation volume, and we attempted to derive a filling-volume technique that would assure accuracy. We then tested the feasibility of this technique in 5 mechanically ventilated pediatric subjects with ARDS.


In the laboratory study, smaller inflation volumes underestimated the chamber pressure at higher chamber pressures, and larger inflation volumes overestimated the chamber pressure at lower chamber pressures. Using an optimal filling-volume technique resulted in a mean total error that ranged from -0.53 to -0.10 cm H2O. The optimal filling-volume values for the pediatric catheters were 0.2-0.6 mL, and 0.4-0.8 mL for the adult catheters. When correctly positioned and calibrated, the micro-tip transducer and liquid-filled catheters were within ± 1 cm H2O of chamber pressure for all ranges of pressure. In the clinical study, high variability in measured esophageal pressure and subsequent transpulmonary pressure during exhalation and during inhalation was observed within the manufacturer's recommended esophageal balloon inflation ranges.


Manufacturer-recommended esophageal balloon inflation ranges do not assure accuracy. Individual titration of esophageal balloon volume may improve accuracy. Better esophageal catheters are needed to provide reliable esophageal pressure measurements in children.


adult; artificial; catheters; esophagus; lung; pediatrics; pleura; pressure; respiration; respiratory distress syndrome

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