Rationale: The technique used to provide continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to the newborn may influence lung function and breathing efficiency.
Objectives: To compare differences in gas exchange physiology and lung injury resulting from treatment of respiratory distress with either bubble or constant pressure CPAP and to determine if the applied flow influences short-term outcomes.
Methods: Lambs (133 d gestation; term is 150 d) born via cesarean section were weighed, intubated, and treated with CPAP for 3 hours. Two groups were treated with 8 L/minute applied flow using the bubble (n = 12) or the constant pressure (n = 12) technique. A third group (n = 10) received the bubble method with 12 L/minute bias flow. Measurements at study completion included arterial blood gases, oxygraphy, capnography, tidal flow, multiple breath washout, lung mechanics, static pressure-volume curves, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid protein.
Measurements and main results: Birth weight and arterial gas variables at 15 minutes were comparable. Flow (8 or 12 L/min) did not influence the 3-hour outcomes in the bubble group. Bubble technique was associated with a higher pH, Pa(O2), oxygen uptake, and area under the flow-volume curve, and a decreased alveolar protein, respiratory quotient, Pa(CO2), and ventilation inhomogeneity compared with the constant pressure group.
Conclusions: Compared with constant pressure technique, bubble CPAP promotes enhanced airway patency during treatment of acute postnatal respiratory disease in preterm lambs and may offer protection against lung injury.