Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA) uses the electrical activity of the diaphragm (Edi) as a neural trigger to synchronize mechanical ventilatory breaths with the patient's neural respiratory drive. Using this signal enables the ventilator to proportionally support the patient's instantaneous drive on a breath-by-breath basis. Synchrony can be achieved even in the presence of significant air leaks, which make this an attractive choice for invasive and non-invasive ventilation of the neonate. This paper describes the Edi signal, neuroventilatory coupling, and patient-ventilator synchrony including the functional concept of NAVA. Safety features, NAVA terminology, and clinical application of NAVA to unload respiratory musculature are presented. The use of the Edi signal as a respiratory vital sign for conventional ventilation is discussed. The results of animal and adult studies are briefly summarized and detailed descriptions of all NAVA-related research in pediatric and neonatal patients are provided. Further studies are needed to determine whether NAVA will have significant impact on the overall outcomes of neonates.
Keywords: Diaphragm; Electrical activity; Neural trigger; Neurally adjusted ventilatory assist; Neuroventilatory cascade; Patient–ventilator interaction; Synchrony.
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