Mechanical ventilation of very low birth weight infants: is volume or pressure a better target variable?

J Pediatr. 2006 Sep;149(3):308-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2006.01.044.


Objective: To compare the efficacy and safety of volume-controlled (VC) ventilation to time-cycled pressure-limited (TCPL) ventilation in very low birth weight infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).

Study design: Newborns weighing between 600 and 1500 g and with a gestational age of 24 to 31 weeks who had RDS were randomized to receive either VC or TCPL ventilation and treated with a standardized protocol. The 2 modalities were compared by determining the time required to achieve a predetermined success criterion, on the basis of either the alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient <100 mm Hg or the mean airway pressure <8 cm H(2)O. Secondary outcomes included mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation, and complications commonly associated with ventilation.

Results: The mean time to reach the success criterion was 23 hours in the VC group versus 33 hours in the TCPL group (P = .15). This difference was more striking in babies weighing <1000g (21 versus 58 hours; P = .03). Mean duration of ventilation with VC was 255 hours versus 327 hours with TCPL (P = .60). There were 5 deaths in the VC group and 10 deaths in the TCPL group (P = .10). The incidence of other complications was similar.

Conclusion: VC ventilation is safe and efficacious in very low birth weight infants and may have advantages when compared with TCPL, especially in smaller infants.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / mortality
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / therapy*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome