Mechanically ventilated patients exhibit decreased particle flow in exhaled breath as compared to normal breathing patients

ERJ Open Res. 2020 Feb 10;6(1):00198-2019. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00198-2019. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Introduction: In this cohort study, we evaluated whether the particles in exhaled air (PExA) device can be used in conjunction with mechanical ventilation during surgery. The PExA device consists of an optical particle counter and an impactor that collects particles in exhaled air. Our aim was to establish the feasibility of the PExA device in combination with mechanical ventilation (MV) during surgery and if collected particles could be analysed. Patients with and without nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) undergoing lung surgery were compared to normal breathing (NB) patients with NSCLC.

Methods: A total of 32 patients were included, 17 patients with NSCLC (MV-NSCLC), nine patients without NSCLC (MV-C) and six patients with NSCLC and not intubated (NB). The PEx samples were analysed for the most common phospholipids in surfactant using liquid-chromatography-mass-spectrometry (LCMS).

Results: MV-NSCLC and MV-C had significantly lower numbers of particles exhaled per minute (particle flow rate; PFR) compared to NB. MV-NSCLC and MV-C also had a siginificantly lower amount of phospholipids in PEx when compared to NB. MV-NSCLC had a significantly lower amount of surfactant A compared to NB.

Conclusion: We have established the feasibility of the PExA device. Particles could be collected and analysed. We observed lower PFR from MV compared to NB. High PFR during MV may be due to more frequent opening and closing of the airways, known to be harmful to the lung. Online use of the PExA device might be used to monitor and personalise settings for mechanical ventilation to lower the risk of lung damage.