Background: Mainstream airflow sensors used in neonatal ventilators to synchronize mechanical breaths with spontaneous inspiration and measure ventilation increase dead space and may impair carbon dioxide (CO(2)) elimination.
Objective: To evaluate a technique consisting of a continuous gas leakage at the endotracheal tube (ETT) adapter to wash out the airflow sensor for synchronization and ventilation monitoring without CO(2) rebreathing in preterm infants.
Design: Minute ventilation (V'(E)) by respiratory inductance plethysmography, end-inspiratory and end-expiratory CO(2) by side-stream microcapnography, and transcutaneous CO(2) tension (TcPCO(2)) were measured in 10 infants (body weight, 835+/-244 g; gestational age, 26+/-2 weeks; age, 19+/-9 days; weight, 856+/-206 g; ventilator rate, 21+/-6 beats/min; PIP, 16+/-1 centimeters of water (cmH(2)O); PEEP, 4.2+/-0.4 cmH(2)O; fraction of inspired oxygen (FIo(2)), 0.26+/-0.6). The measurements were made during four 30-minute periods in random order: IMV (without airflow sensor), IMV+Sensor, SIMV (with airflow sensor), and SIMV+Leak (ETT adapter continuous leakage).
Results: Airflow sensor presence during SIMV and IMV+Sensor periods resulted in higher end-inspiratory and end-expiratory CO(2), Tcpco(2), and spontaneous V'(E) compared with IMV. These effects were not observed during SIMV+Leak.
Conclusions: The significant physiologic effects of airflow sensor dead space during synchronized ventilation in preterm infants can be effectively prevented by the ETT adapter continuous leakage technique.