Objective: Although computerized methods of analyzing respiratory system mechanics such as the least squares fitting method have been used in various patient populations, no conclusive data are available in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), probably because they may develop expiratory flow limitation (EFL). This suggests that respiratory mechanics be determined only during inspiration.
Setting: Eight-bed multidisciplinary ICU of a teaching hospital.
Patients: Eight non-flow-limited postvascular surgery patients and eight flow-limited COPD patients.
Intervention: Patients were sedated, paralyzed for diagnostic purposes, and ventilated in volume control ventilation with constant inspiratory flow rate.
Measurements: Data on resistance, compliance, and dynamic intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEPi,dyn) obtained by applying the least squares fitting method during inspiration, expiration, and the overall breathing cycle were compared with those obtained by the traditional method (constant flow, end-inspiratory occlusion method).
Results and conclusion: Our results indicate that (a) the presence of EFL markedly decreases the precision of resistance and compliance values measured by the LSF method, (b) the determination of respiratory variables during inspiration allows the calculation of respiratory mechanics in flow limited COPD patients, and (c) the LSF method is able to detect the presence of PEEPi,dyn if only inspiratory data are used.