Objective: To evaluate the physiologic short-term effects of noninvasive proportional assist ventilation (PAV) in patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Design: Prospective, physiologic study.
Setting: Respiratory intermediate intensive care unit.
Patients: Seven patients with acute respiratory failure requiring noninvasive mechanical ventilation because of exacerbation of COPD.
Interventions: PAV was administered by nasal mask as first ventilatory intervention. The setting of PAV involved a procedure to adjust volume assist and flow assist to levels corresponding to patient comfort. Volume assist was also set by means of the "run-away" procedure. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) amounting to 2 cm H2O was always set by the ventilator. This setting of assistance (PAV) was applied for 45 mins. Thereafter, CPAP was increased to 5 cm H2O (PAV + CPAP-5) without any change in the PAV setting and was administered for 20 mins. Oxygen was delivered through a port of the mask in the attempt to maintain a target SaO2 >90%.
Measurements and main results: Arterial blood gases, breathing pattern, and inspiratory effort were measured during unsupported breathing and at the end of PAV, and breathing pattern and inspiratory effort were measured after 20 mins of PAV + CPAP-5. PAV determined a significant increase in tidal volume and minute ventilation (+64% and +25% on average, respectively) with unchanged breathing frequency and a significant improvement in arterial blood gases (PaO2 with the same oxygen supply, from 65 +/- 15 torr to 97 +/- 36 torr; PaCO2, from 80 +/- 11 torr to 76 +/- 13 torr; pH, from 7.30 +/- 0.02 to 7.32 +/- 0.03). The pressure-time product calculated over a period of 1 min (from 318 +/- 87 to 205 +/- 145 cm H2O x sec x min(-1)) was significantly reduced. PAV + CPAP-5 resulted in a further although not significant decrease in the pressure-time product calculated over a period of 1 min (to 183 +/- 110 cm H2O x sec x min(-1)), without additional changes in the breathing pattern.
Conclusions: Noninvasive PAV is able to improve arterial blood gases while unloading inspiratory muscles in patients with acute exacerbation of COPD.