The complete equation of motion for a single compartment model (SCM) includes an inertance term to describe pressure changes in phase with acceleration, as well as terms for resistance and elastance. Inertance has traditionally been excluded from the model when measuring respiratory mechanics at conventional ventilatory frequencies in mature respiratory systems. However, this omission has been questioned recently for measurements of respiratory mechanics in intubated infants where higher ventilation frequencies and smaller tracheal tubes are the norm. We investigated 1) the significance of inertance in an immature respiratory system during mechanical ventilation, and 2) the effect of omitting it from the model on estimates of respiratory mechanics. Six anesthetised, paralysed and mechanically ventilated puppies (2.6-3.9 kg) were studied. A SCM, including an inertance term was fitted to measurements of flow and airway opening (P(AO)) or transpulmonary (P(TP)) pressure using multiple linear regression to estimate respiratory system and lung resistance (R(RS), R(L)), elastance (E(RS), E(L)) and inertance (I(RS), I(L)) respectively, at various ventilation frequencies (0.2-2 Hz). Data obtained at each ventilation frequency were also fitted with a similar model without the inertance term. Inertance contributed significantly to the model at frequencies greater than approximately 0.3-0.5 Hz (20-30 breaths per minute), with I(RS) dominated by the lung. The importance of including the inertance term in the model increased as ventilation frequency increased. Exclusion of inertance from the model led to underestimation of E(RS) and E(L), but no errors in estimates of R(RS) or R(L). The errors increased with ventilation frequency to approximately 10-20% for E(RS) and approximately 10-40% for E(L) at 2 Hz. While inertance contributed significantly to the SCM at ventilation frequencies typically required to maintain normal gas exchange in puppies, the errors from excluding this term were small: <3% for E(RS) and <9% for E(L).
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.