Sustained inflation improves initial lung aeration in newborn rabbits with a diaphragmatic hernia

Pediatr Res. 2023 Nov 11. doi: 10.1038/s41390-023-02874-x. Online ahead of print.


Background: Infants with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (DH) have underdeveloped lungs and require mechanical ventilation after birth, but the optimal approach is unknown. We hypothesised that sustained inflation (SI) increases lung aeration in newborn kittens with a DH.

Methods: In pregnant New Zealand white rabbits, a left-sided DH was induced in two fetal kittens per doe at 24-days gestation (term = 32 days); litter mates acted as controls. DH and control kittens were delivered by caesarean section at 30 days, intubated and mechanically ventilated (7-10 min) with either an SI followed by intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV) or IPPV throughout. The rate and uniformity of lung aeration was measured using phase-contrast X-ray imaging.

Results: Lung weights in DH kittens were ~57% of controls. An SI increased the rate and uniformity of lung aeration in DH kittens, compared to IPPV, and increased dynamic lung compliance in both control and DH kittens. However, this effect of the SI was lost when ventilation changed to IPPV.

Conclusion: While an SI improved the rate and uniformity of lung aeration in both DH and control kittens, greater consideration of the post-SI ventilation strategy is required to sustain this benefit.

Impact: Compared to intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV), an initial sustained inflation (SI) increased the rate and uniformity of lung aeration after birth. However, this initial benefit is rapidly lost following the switch to IPPV. The optimal approach for ventilating CDH infants at birth is unknown. While an SI improves lung aeration in immature lungs, its effect on the hypoplastic lung is unknown. This study has shown that an SI greatly improves lung aeration in the hypoplastic lung. This study will guide future studies examining whether an SI can improve lung aeration in infants with a CDH.