Introduction: The aim of the present study was to demonstrate that lung elastance and transpulmonary pressure can be determined without using oesophageal pressure measurements.
Methods: Studies were performed on 13 anesthetized and sacrificed ex vivo pigs. Tracheal and oesophageal pressures were measured and changes in end-expiratory lung volume (ΔEELV) determined by spirometry as the cumulative inspiratory-expiratory tidal volume difference. Studies were performed with different end-expiratory pressure steps [change in end-expiratory airway pressure (ΔPEEP)], body positions and with abdominal load.
Results: A PEEP increase results in a multi-breath build-up of end-expiratory lung volume. End-expiratory oesophageal pressure did not increase further after the first expiration, constituting half of the change in ΔEELV following a PEEP increase, even though end-expiratory volume continued to increase. This resulted in a successive left shift of the chest wall pressure-volume curve. Even at a PEEP of 12 cmH(2) O did the end-expiratory oesophageal (pleural) pressure remain negative.
Conclusions: A PEEP increase resulted in a less than expected increase in end-expiratory oesophageal pressure, indicating that the chest wall and abdomen gradually can accommodate changes in lung volume. The rib cage end-expiratory spring-out force stretches the diaphragm and prevents the lung from being compressed by abdominal pressure. The increase in transpulmonary pressure following a PEEP increase was closely related to the increase in PEEP, indicating that lung compliance can be calculated from the ratio of the change in end-expiratory lung volume and the change in PEEP, ΔEELV/ΔPEEP.
© 2012 The Authors. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica © 2012 The Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica Foundation.