Prolonged Continuous Monitoring of Regional Lung Function in Infants with Respiratory Failure

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2022 Jun;19(6):991-999. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.202005-562OC.


Rationale: Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) allows instantaneous and continuous visualization of regional ventilation and changes in end-expiratory lung volume at the bedside. There is particular interest in using EIT for monitoring in critically ill neonates and young children with respiratory failure. Previous studies have focused only on short-term monitoring in small populations. The feasibility and safety of prolonged monitoring with EIT in neonates and young children have not been demonstrated yet. Objectives: To evaluate the feasibility and safety of long-term EIT monitoring in a routine clinical setting and to describe changes in ventilation distribution and homogeneity over time and with positioning in a multicenter cohort of neonates and young children with respiratory failure. Methods: At four European University hospitals, we conducted an observational study (NCT02962505) on 200 patients with postmenstrual ages (PMA) between 25 weeks and 36 months, at risk for or suffering from respiratory failure. Continuous EIT data were obtained using a novel textile 32-electrode interface and recorded at 48 images/s for up to 72 hours. Clinicians were blinded to EIT images during the recording. EIT parameters and the effects of body position on ventilation distribution were analyzed offline. Results: The average duration of EIT measurements was 53 ± 20 hours. Skin contact impedance was sufficient to allow image reconstruction for valid ventilation analysis during a median of 92% (interquartile range, 77-98%) of examination time. EIT examinations were well tolerated, with minor skin irritations (temporary redness or imprint) occurring in 10% of patients and no moderate or severe adverse events. Higher ventilation amplitude was found in the dorsal and right lung areas when compared with the ventral and left regions, respectively. Prone positioning resulted in an increase in the ventilation-related EIT signal in the dorsal hemithorax, indicating increased ventilation of the dorsal lung areas. Lateral positioning led to a redistribution of ventilation toward the dependent lung in preterm infants and to the nondependent lung in patients with PMA > 37 weeks. Conclusions: EIT allows continuous long-term monitoring of regional lung function in neonates and young children for up to 72 hours with minimal adverse effects. Our study confirmed the presence of posture-dependent changes in ventilation distribution and their dependency on PMA in a large patient cohort. Clinical trial registered with (NCT02962505).

Keywords: electrical impedance tomography; infant respiratory distress syndrome; monitoring of mechanical ventilation; neonatal critical care; pediatric critical care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electric Impedance
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory Insufficiency* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Insufficiency* / therapy
  • Tomography* / methods

Associated data