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Tidal volume variability during airway pressure release ventilation: case summary and theoretical analysis.


Airway pressure-release ventilation (APRV) is used in the management of patients with severe or refractory respiratory failure. In addition to reversal of inspiratory-expiratory ratios, this pressure control mode also allows unrestricted spontaneous breathing. The spontaneous tidal volume (V(T)), as well as the V(T) resulting from transition between the high and low airway pressures, is uncontrolled. There are limited data on the within-patient variation of actual V(T) and the safety of these modes. The authors present a patient with severe ARDS who was managed with biphasic modes (APRV and bi-level positive airway pressure). Serial V(T) measurements showed that V(T) ranged from 4 to 12 mL/kg predicted body weight. Computed tomography scan images and chest radiographs obtained before and following APRV showed lung parenchyma changes that may be related to ventilator-induced lung injury. We also present a mathematical model that is useful for simulating APRV and demonstrating the issues related to volume delivery for mandatory breaths during the transition between the 2 pressure levels. A key finding of this analysis is the interdependence of release volume, autoPEEP, and the T(low) time setting. Furthermore, it is virtually impossible to target a specific P(aCO(2)) with a desired level V(T) and autoPEEP in a passive model, emphasizing the importance of spontaneous breathing with this mode. This case report suggests caution when using these modes, and that end-inspiratory lung volumes and V(T) should be limited to avoid lung injury. The important point of this case study and model analysis is that the application of APRV is more complex than it appears to be. It requires a lot more knowledge and skill than may be apparent from descriptions in the literature.


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    Respiratory Institute, The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


    Respiratory care 57:8 2012 Aug pg 1325-33


    Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
    Models, Theoretical
    Pulmonary Gas Exchange
    Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult
    Respiratory Mechanics
    Tidal Volume
    Tomography, X-Ray Computed
    Young Adult

    Pub Type(s)

    Case Reports
    Journal Article



    PubMed ID