Intrabronchial airway pressures in intubated patients during bronchoscopy under volume controlled and pressure controlled ventilation

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2011 May;39(3):431-9. doi: 10.1177/0310057X1103900314.


Bronchoscope insertion through an endotracheal tube increases airflow resistance. Constant tidal volume (T(v)) ventilation can be maintained by augmenting the inspiratory pressure, but increased outflow resistance cannot be compensated for. Air trapping distal to the tube may lead to higher airway pressures in volume controlled (VC) mode and reduced T(v) in pressure controlled (PC) mode. Increased end-expiratory airway pressures will not be detected by ventilator pressure sensors. In mechanically ventilated and sedated patients, the effects of bronchoscope insertion on intrabronchial pressures were recorded by a pressure transducer distal to the endoscope. In half of the patients, the ventilator was set in VC mode prior to bronchoscope insertion, keeping the previous T(v) constant. In the other half the ventilator was set in PC mode, keeping previous peak inspiratory pressures constant. All patients underwent sequences of VC-PC-VC or PC-VC-PC ventilation with two-minute intervals between mode-changes. In VC mode, bronchoscope insertion increased peak airway pressure from 29 cmH2O (22 to 43) to 41 cmH2O (36 to 49) (P = 0.012) and end-expiratory airway pressure from 11 cmH2O (6 to 18) to 22.5 cmH2O (15 to 30) (P = 0.012). There were no significant changes in T(v), P(a)CO2 or P(a)O2 after two minutes. In PC mode, peak airway pressure was unchanged and end-expiratory airway pressure increased from 9.5 cmH2O (7 to 10) to 10.5 cmH2O (9 to 18) (P = 0.017). Median T(v) was reduced from 673 ml (585 to 800) to 450 ml (408 to 560) (P = 0.012); median P(a)CO2 increased from 5.7 kPa to 6.5 kPa (P = 0.012). Using distal measurement, positive end-expiratory airway pressure increased markedly in VC mode but only marginally in PC mode after bronchoscope insertion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchi / physiopathology*
  • Bronchoscopy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pressure
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*