[Automatic tube compensation (ATC)]

Anaesthesist. 2001 Mar;50(3):171-80. doi: 10.1007/s001010050985.
[Article in German]


The endotracheal tube (ETT) is a considerably flow-dependent and, therefore, variable mechanical load. Conventional modes of respiratory support cannot adequately compensate for the tube resistance in inspiratorion and not at all in expiration. Automatic tube compensation (ATC) compensates for the flow-dependent pressure drop across the tracheal tube by a positive pressure support in inspiration and by a negative pressure support in expiration. The pressure support closely follows the nonlinear pressure-flow curve of the ETT. Automatic tube compensation has an indirect closed-loop working principle since the target tracheal pressure is not directly measured but rather calculated from continuously measured airway pressure and flow rate. It is not an own ventilatory mode but rather a component of flow-proportional pressure support which can be combined with all conventional ventilatory modes, and provides a rational basis for subdividing the pressure support to overcome the mechanical load of the tubing and to overcome that of the respiratory system. Partial tube obstructions, which could decrease the effectivity of ATC, could be detected automatically by analysing the expiratory flow signal using a software, which could be easily implemented into the ventilator. The effectivity of ATC during long-term application can be maintained by intermittent short-term measurement of the tracheal pressure. Up to now there is no commercially available ventilator which allows complete expiratory ATC. Studies in volunteers and in mechanically ventilated patients have convincingly shown that ATC reduces work of breathing and increases respiratory comfort. In addition, successful extubation could be better predicted with this mode in difficult-to-wean patients compared to other modes. There are no special rules in the clinical application of ATC. However, to prevent overassist the support level of the ventilatory mode which is combined with ATC should be reduced.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Ventilators, Negative-Pressure