Lung volumes, mechanics, and oxygenation during spontaneous positive-pressure ventilation: the advantage of CPAP over EPAP

Anesthesiology. 1981 Oct;55(4):416-22. doi: 10.1097/00000542-198110000-00013.


To determine if continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) is superior for achieving or maintaining effective lung volume in spontaneously breathing critically ill patients in acute respiratory failure, the authors measured functional residual capacity (FRC), airway and esophageal pressures, and arterial oxygen tensions when CPAP and EPAP were 5 and 10 cm H2O. Arterial oxygenation, FRC, and transpulmonary pressure at end-expiration were greatest when CPAP was 10 cm H2O. Lung compliance did not change. The authors conclude that CPAP at 10 cm H2O is the more effective technique, either because it allows relaxation of chest wall musculature on expiration, or because EPAP at 10 cm H2O increases chest wall muscle tone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Arteries
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Volume Measurements / instrumentation
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Partial Pressure
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology


  • Oxygen