Partitioning of inspiratory muscle workload and pressure assistance in ventilator-dependent COPD patients

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Nov;154(5):1301-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.154.5.8912740.


To investigate the mechanisms underlying ventilator-dependence in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and to assess the effects of the combination of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and pressure-support ventilation (PSV) on inspiratory muscle effort, we investigated respiratory mechanics in eight ventilator-dependent COPD patients. The patients' breathing pattern, lung mechanics, diaphragmatic effort (PTPdi), diaphragmatic tension-time index (TTdi), and arterial blood gases were measured during both spontaneous breathing (SB) and ventilatory assistance consisting of PSV alone (15, 20, and 25 cm H2O) and PSV combined with a PEEP of 5 cm H2O (reducing PSV to 10, 15, and 20 cm H2O, respectively, to maintain equivalent inspiratory pressure). The different levels of ventilatory support were delivered in a randomized sequence. Maximal inspiratory (MIP), esophageal (PpImax) and transdiaphragmatic (Pdi(max)) pressures and respiratory drive (P(0.1)) were measured at the beginning of the procedure during SB. We found a high P(0.1) (6.1 +/- 1.7 cm H2O), which seemed to rule out an impairment of respiratory-center output. Apparently, inspiratory muscle strength was compatible with successful weaning (38.5 +/- 8.8, 50.9 +/- 9.7, and 51.8 +/- 9.5 cm H2O for MIP, PPImax and Pdi(max), respectively). However, abnormal respiratory mechanics (particularly an intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEPi) of 8.3 +/- 1.9 cm H2O and pulmonary resistance 24.7 +/- 9.5 cm H2O/L/s imposed an excessive load on the inspiratory muscles, as indicated by a high PTPdi (499 +/- 122 cm H2O x s). Increasing levels of PSV progressively and significantly unloaded the patients' inspiratory muscles, although at pressures above 20 cm H2O uncoupling occurred between patient and ventilator respiratory frequency. Application of PEEP during PSV improved ventilatory assistance by further reducing the inspiratory effort (by 17% on average) and by ameliorating patient-ventilator interaction. We conclude that the excessive mechanical load, and in particular the high PEEPi, is the major determinant of ventilator-dependence in COPD patients. Application of PEEP improves the efficiency of PSV in unloading these patients' inspiratory muscles, and can sometimes improve patient-ventilator interaction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Respiration*
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Respiratory Function Tests

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