Effects of proportional assist ventilation on inspiratory muscle effort in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute respiratory failure

Anesthesiology. 1997 Jan;86(1):79-91. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199701000-00012.


Background: Acute respiratory failure may develop in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because of intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEPi) and increased resistive and elastic loads. Proportional assist ventilation is an experimental mode of partial ventilatory support in which the ventilator generates flow to unload the resistive burden (flow assistance: FA) and volume to unload the elastic burden (volume assistance: VA) proportionally to inspiratory muscle effort, and PEEPi can be counterbalanced by application of external PEEP. The authors assessed effects of proportional assist ventilation and optimal ventilatory settings in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute respiratory failure.

Methods: Inspiratory muscles and diaphragmatic efforts were evaluated by measurements of esophageal, gastric, and transdiaphragmatic pressures. Minute ventilation and breathing patterns were evaluated by measuring airway pressure and flow. Measurements were performed during spontaneous breathing, continuous positive airway pressure, FA, FA+PEEP, VA, VA+PEEP, FA+VA, and FA+VA+PEEP.

Results: FA+PEEP provided the greatest improvement in minute ventilation (89 +/- 3%) and dyspnea (62 +/- 2%). The largest reduction in pressure time product per breath of the respiratory muscles and diaphragm (44 +/- 3% and 33 +/- 2%, respectively) also was observed during FA+PEEP condition. When VA was added to this setting, a reduction in respiratory rate (50 +/- 3%), an increase in inspiratory time (102 +/- 6%), and a further reduction in pressure time product per minute (65 +/- 2% and 64% for the respiratory muscles and diaphragm, respectively) was observed. However, values of pressure time product per liter of minute ventilation during FA+VA+PEEP did not differ with those observed during FA+PEEP condition. Worsening of patient-ventilator interaction and breathing asynchrony occurred when VA was implemented.

Conclusions: Application of PEEP to counterbalance PEEPi and FA to unload the resistive burden provided the optimal conditions in such patients. Ventilator over-assistance and patient-ventilator asynchrony was observed when VA was added to this setting. The clinical use of proportional assist ventilation should be based on continuous measurements of respiratory mechanics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration, Intrinsic
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Ventilation / methods*