Automatic air-leak compensation in neuromuscular patients: a feasibility study

Respir Med. 2009 Feb;103(2):173-9. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2008.01.024. Epub 2008 Nov 6.


Air leaks often result in alveolar hypoventilation in mechanically ventilated patients with neuromuscular disease. The primary objective of this study was to assess the feasibility, efficacy and tolerance of a ventilator equipped with an automated air-leak compensation system in a clinical situation. Fourteen neuromuscular patients with nocturnal air leaks during home ventilation were included in a prospective randomised crossover study. A modified VS Ultra ventilator was studied during two consecutive nights and patients were randomly ventilated with and without a leak-compensation system, respectively. Tolerance, minute ventilation, blood gas values, sleep parameters, and nocturnal oxygen saturation were assessed. Leak compensation significantly increased the mean inspiratory and expiratory tidal volumes (731+/-312 vs. 1094+/-432 ml [p=0.002] and 329+/-130 vs. 496+/-388 ml [p=0.006], respectively) and inspiratory and expiratory flows (51.7+/-8.2 vs. 61.8+/-12.4 l/min [p=0.016] and 63.3+/-26.2 vs. 83.3+/-37.8 l/min [p=0.013], respectively). The system acted by increasing both inspiratory time (from 1355+/-230 to 1527+/-159 ms, p=0.038) and inspiratory pressure (from 14.0+/-2.8 to 18.3+/-3.4 cm H(2)O, p=0.002). Leak compensation improved arterial PCO(2) (6.18+/-0.9 vs. 5.21+/-1.0 kPa, p=0.004), slow-wave-sleep latency (119+/-69 vs. 87+/-35 min, p=0.04), and tolerance. Air-leak compensation is feasible and may produce beneficial effects in neuromuscular patients. The automatic air-leak compensation system tested here should be evaluated in long-term efficacy and tolerance studies and compared to other ventilation modes capable of compensating for leaks, such as pressure support.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Home Care Services, Hospital-Based
  • Humans
  • Hypoventilation / therapy*
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy*
  • Polysomnography
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Respiration, Artificial / instrumentation*