Background: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) maintains a constant pressure to reduce the patient's work of breathing (WOB). The aim of this study was to measure the additional WOB imposed by four current CPAP devices during simulation of a difficult but commonly encountered clinical situation.
Method: Flow contour, respiratory system compliance and total lung-airway resistance of a patient under CPAP were simulated. The devices were tested at a CPAP of 15cm H(2)O with a heated humidifier and a nasal pillow, which increased circuitry resistance and with and without a simulated unintentional leak.
Results: With no leak, positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) at the interface varied across devices from 14.0 to 15.3cm H(2)O. With a leak of 1L/s, PEEP varied from 11.5 to 17.1cm H(2)O. Imposed inspiratory WOB ranged from less than 0.1J/min to 0.45J/min with no leak, and the range broadened with leaking. Findings were similar for the imposed expiratory WOB.
Conclusion: The performances of CPAP devices are variable. The device that calibrated for the pressure loss in the circuitry under dynamic conditions and made appropriate pressure adjustments outperformed the other devices.
Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.