Established severe BPD: is there a way out? Change of ventilatory paradigms

Pediatr Res. 2021 Dec;90(6):1139-1146. doi: 10.1038/s41390-021-01558-8. Epub 2021 May 19.


Improved survival of extremely preterm newborn infants has increased the number of infants at risk for developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Despite efforts to prevent BPD, many of these infants still develop severe BPD (sBPD) and require long-term invasive mechanical ventilation. The focus of research and clinical management has been on the prevention of BPD, which has had only modest success. On the other hand, research on the management of the established sBPD patient has received minimal attention even though this condition poses large economic and health problems with extensive morbidities and late mortality. Patients with sBPD, however, have been shown to respond to treatments focused not only on ventilatory strategies but also on multidisciplinary approaches where neurodevelopmental support, growth promoting strategies, and aggressive treatment of pulmonary hypertension improve their long-term outcomes. In this review we will try to present a physiology-based ventilatory strategy for established sBPD, emphasizing a possible paradigm shift from acute efforts to wean infants at all costs to a more chronic approach of stabilizing the infant. This chronic approach, herein referred to as chronic phase ventilation, aims at allowing active patient engagement, reducing air trapping, and improving ventilation-perfusion matching, while providing sufficient support to optimize late outcomes. IMPACT: Based on pathophysiological aspects of evolving and established severe BPD in premature infants, this review presents some lung mechanical properties of the most severe phenotype and proposes a chronic phase ventilatory strategy that aims at reducing air trapping, improving ventilation-perfusion matching and optimizing late outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / physiopathology
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiration, Artificial*