Aim: Nitric oxide (NO) is an important mediator required for neonatal pulmonary circulatory adaptation and for pulmonary defence. Both deficient and excessive NO production have been proposed to play a role in neonatal lung disease. This study aimed to establish a method that allows direct measurement of exhaled and nasal NO concentrations in newborn infants who require intubation and ventilation.
Methods: A rapid-response chemiluminescence NO analyser was used. Gas was sampled from the endotracheal intubation tube, and tidal volumes and flow rates were measured. The nasal NO was sampled from the non-intubated nostril. The accuracy of the method was validated using a lung model. NO levels from six preterm and six term/near-term newborns were studied. Measurements were performed on a daily basis during the first week.
Results: An expiration >0.2 s in duration with a flow rate >1.7 ml s(-1) could be accurately analysed for the presence of >1 parts per billion of NO. The very preterm infants with neonatal lung disease had a different postnatal NO output pattern from the lower and upper airways compared with the ventilated term/near-term infants.
Conclusion: A novel method for measurement of exhaled NO of an intubated newborn is presented. The possible association of exhaled NO concentration with the development of chronic lung disease remains to be studied.