Background: Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA) is a partial ventilatory support mode where positive pressure is provided in relation to diaphragmatic electrical activity (EAdi). Central inspiratory activity is normally not monotonous, but it demonstrates short-term variability and complexity. The authors reasoned that NAVA should produce a more "natural" or variable breathing pattern than other modes. This study compared respiratory variability and complexity during pressure support ventilation (PSV) and NAVA.
Methods: Flow and EAdi were recorded during routine PSV (tidal volume approximately 6-8 ml/kg) and four NAVA levels (1-4 cm H2O/microVEAdi) in 12 intubated patients. Breath-by-breath variability of flow and EAdi-related variables was quantified by the coefficient of variation (CV) and autocorrelation analysis. Complexity of flow and EAdi was described using noise titration, largest Lyapunov exponent, Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy, and three-dimensional phase portraits.
Results: Switching from PSV to NAVA increased the CV and decreased the autocorrelation for most flow-related variables in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05, partial eta for the CV of mean inspiratory flow 0.642). The changes were less marked for EAdi. A positive noise limit was consistently found for flow and EAdi. Largest Lyapunov exponent and Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy for flow were greater during NAVA than PSV and increased with NAVA level (P < 0.05, partial eta 0.334 and 0.312, respectively). Largest Lyapunov exponent and Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy for EAdi were not influenced by ventilator mode.
Conclusions: Compared with PSV, NAVA increases the breathing pattern variability and complexity of flow, whereas the complexity of EAdi is unchanged. Whether this improves clinical outcomes remains to be determined.