This review considers measurement of global and regional ventilation inhomogeneity (VI) in infants and young children with acute neonatal respiratory disorders and chronic lung disease of infancy (CLDI). We focus primarily on multiple-breath inert gas washout (MBW) and electrical impedance tomography (EIT). The literature is critically reviewed and the relevant methods, equipment, and studies are summarized, including the limitations and strengths of individual techniques, together with the availability and appropriateness of any reference data. There has been a recent resurgence of interest in using MBW to monitor lung function within individuals and between different groups. In the mechanically ventilated, sedated, and paralyzed patient, VI indices can identify serial changes occurring following exogenous surfactant. Similarly, global VI indices appear to be increased in infants with CLDI and to differentiate between infants without lung disease and those with mild, moderate, and severe lung disease following preterm birth. While EIT is a relatively new technique, recent studies suggest that it is feasible in newborn infants, and can quantitatively identify changes in regional lung ventilation following alterations to ventilator settings, positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP), and administration of treatments such as surfactant. As such, EIT represents one of the more exciting prospects for continuous bedside pulmonary monitoring. For both techniques, there is an urgent need to establish guidelines regarding data collection, analysis, and interpretation in infants both with and without CLDI.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.