Purpose: To study and compare the relationship between end-expiratory lung volume (EELV) and changes in end-expiratory lung impedance (EELI) measured with electrical impedance tomography (EIT) at the basal part of the lung at different PEEP levels in a mixed ICU population.
Methods: End-expiratory lung volume, EELI and tidal impedance variation were determined at four PEEP levels (15-10-5-0 cm H2O) in 25 ventilated ICU patients. The tidal impedance variation and tidal volume at 5 cm H2O PEEP were used to calculate change in impedance per ml; this ratio was then used to calculate change in lung volume from change in EELI. To evaluate repeatability, EELV was measured in quadruplicate in five additional patients.
Results: There was a significant but relatively low correlation (r = 0.79; R2 = 0.62) and moderate agreement (bias 194 ml, SD 323 ml) between DeltaEELV and change in lung volume calculated from the DeltaEELI. The ratio of tidal impedance variation and tidal volume differed between patients and also varied at different PEEP levels. Good agreement was found between repeated EELV measurements and washin/washout of a simulated nitrogen washout technique.
Conclusion: During a PEEP trial, the assumption of a linear relationship between change in global tidal impedance and tidal volume cannot be used to calculate EELV when impedance is measured at only one thoracic level just above the diaphragm.