Background: Current bilevel positive-pressure ventilators for home noninvasive ventilation (NIV) provide physicians with software that records items important for patient monitoring, such as compliance, tidal volume (Vt), and leaks. However, to our knowledge, the validity of this information has not yet been independently assessed.
Methods: Testing was done for seven home ventilators on a bench model adapted to simulate NIV and generate unintentional leaks (ie, other than of the mask exhalation valve). Five levels of leaks were simulated using a computer-driven solenoid valve (0-60 L/min) at different levels of inspiratory pressure (15 and 25 cm H(2)O) and at a fixed expiratory pressure (5 cm H(2)O), for a total of 10 conditions. Bench data were compared with results retrieved from ventilator software for leaks and Vt.
Results: For assessing leaks, three of the devices tested were highly reliable, with a small bias (0.3-0.9 L/min), narrow limits of agreement (LA), and high correlations (R(2), 0.993-0.997) when comparing ventilator software and bench results; conversely, for four ventilators, bias ranged from -6.0 L/min to -25.9 L/min, exceeding -10 L/min for two devices, with wide LA and lower correlations (R(2), 0.70-0.98). Bias for leaks increased markedly with the importance of leaks in three devices. Vt was underestimated by all devices, and bias (range, 66-236 mL) increased with higher insufflation pressures. Only two devices had a bias < 100 mL, with all testing conditions considered.
Conclusions: Physicians monitoring patients who use home ventilation must be aware of differences in the estimation of leaks and Vt by ventilator software. Also, leaks are reported in different ways according to the device used.