Background: As intra- and interhospital transportation of ventilator-dependent patients has become more commonplace, the number of portable transport ventilators has increased. Transport ventilators should be capable of delivering consistent tidal volume (VT) from breath to breath following changes in lung-thorax compliance and airways resistance. We sought to determine the effect of changes in compliance (C) and resistance (R) on the VT delivered by eight commercially available, time-cycled transport ventilators.
Methods & materials: Each ventilator (PneuPAC Model 2, Autovent 3000, MAX, Bird Transport Mini-TXP, IC-2A, P7, E100i, and Logic 07a) was connected to a calibrated pneumotachograph and a test lung set for normal adult C (C = 100 mL/cm H2O [1.02 L/kPa]) and R (R = 2 cm H2O.s.L-1 [0.2 kPa.s.L-1]), with VT at 1,000 mL.
Results: As C and R were manipulated, VT varied widely. Tidal volume decreased least with the P7 and most with the Bird transport ventilator.
Conclusion: Decreases in VT with a transport ventilator predispose patients to hypoventilation, hypercapnia, and acidemia. Tidal volume often is not monitored continuously during transport, yet large decreases in VT must not be allowed when pulmonary mechanics are unstable. Internal pressure-limiting valves, venturi flow-generating devices, and compression volume in the breathing circuit are at least three factors that affect VT with transport ventilators.