Inspiratory pressure support compensates for the additional work of breathing caused by the endotracheal tube

Anesthesiology. 1991 Nov;75(5):739-45. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199111000-00004.


Breathing through an endotracheal tube and a demand valve may increase the work performed by the respiratory muscles. Inspiratory pressure support (PS) is known to reduce this work and might therefore compensate for this increased requirement. To test this hypothesis, we measured the work of breathing (WOB) in 11 patients whose tracheas were intubated. Five had no intrinsic lung disease, but six had chronic obstructive lung disease. We compared WOB measurements taken under several sets of conditions: during assisted breathing at four levels of PS, during unassisted breathing and connection to a T-piece, and after extubation of the trachea. During unassisted breathing via the ventilator circuit (PS set at 0 cmH20), the WOB per minute was greater than that after extubation, with a mean increase (+/- standard deviation) of 68 +/- 38% (10.3 +/- 5.1 vs. 6.5 +/- 3.7 J.min-1, P less than 0.01). While breathing through the T-piece, the WOB was 27 +/- 18% greater than after tracheal extubation (8.2 +/- 5.1 vs. 6.5 +/- 3.7 J.min-1, P less than 0.05). The principal reason why inspiratory work decreased after extubation was that the ventilatory requirement decreased. For each patient, we determined retrospectively, after extubation, the level of PS that had reduced WOB to its postextubation value and obtained levels ranging from 3.4 to 14.4 cmH2O. The PS level at which additional WOB was compensated for, was greater in patients with chronic lung disease than in those free of lung disease (12.0 +/- 1.9 vs. 5.7 +/- 1.5 cm H2O, P less than 0.05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Work of Breathing*