Allowing for spontaneous breathing during high-frequency oscillation: the key for final success?

Crit Care. 2006;10(4):155. doi: 10.1186/cc4993.


In the present issue of Critical Care, van Heerde and colleagues describe a new technical development (a flow-demand system during high-frequency oscillation) that may have an important impact on the future use of high-frequency ventilation in children and adults. Flow compensation on patient demand seems to reduce the imposed work of breathing, may therefore increase patient comfort, and should theoretically allow for maintaining spontaneous breathing while heavy sedation and muscular paralysis could be avoided. With further technical development of this concept, high-frequency oscillation can finally be added to the techniques of mechanical ventilatory support that maintain, rather than suppress, spontaneous breathing efforts. Furthermore, this concept will give high-frequency oscillation the chance to prove its potential role as primary therapy in patients with acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome, the chance to reduce the incidence of high-frequency oscillation failure for patient or physician discomfort as reported in so many clinical trials in the past, the chance to most probably allow successful weaning from high-frequency oscillation to extubation, and, ultimately, in analogy to what has been reported from the experience with other ventilator modes that allow for maintaining spontaneous breathing, the chance to decrease ventilator days in patients with acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • High-Frequency Ventilation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology