Effects of positive end-expiratory pressure and different tidal volumes on alveolar recruitment and hyperinflation

Anesthesiology. 1997 Sep;87(3):495-503. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199709000-00007.


Background: The morphologic effect of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and of two tidal volumes were studied by computed tomography to determine whether setting the tidal volume (Vt) at the upper inflection point (UIP) of the pressure-volume (P-V) curve of the respiratory system or 10 ml/kg have different effects on hyperinflation and alveolar recruitment.

Methods: Alveolar recruitment and hyperinflation were quantified by computed tomography in nine patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). First, end expiration was compared without PEEP and with PEEP set at the lower inflection point of the P-V curve; second, at end inspiration above PEEP, a reduced Vt set at the UIP (rVt) and a standard 10 ml/kg Vt (Vt) ending above the UIP were compared. Three lung zones were defined from computed tomographic densities: hyperdense, normal, and hyperinflated zones.

Results: Positive end-expiratory pressure induced a significant decrease in hyperdensities (from 46.8 +/- 18% to 38 +/- 15.1% of zero end-expiratory pressure (ZEEP) area; P < 0.02) with a concomitant increase in normal zones (from 47.3 +/- 20.9% to 56.5 +/- 13.2% of the ZEEP area; P < 0.05), and a significant increase in hyperinflation (from 8.1 +/- 5.9% to 17.8 +/- 12.7% of ZEEP area; P < 0.01). At end inspiration, a significant increase in hyperinflated areas was observed with Vt compared with rVt (33.4 +/- 17.8 vs. 26.8 +/- 17.3% of ZEEP area; P < 0.05), whereas no significant difference was observed for both normal and hyperdense zones.

Conclusions: Positive end-expiratory pressure promotes alveolar recruitment; increasing Vt above the UIP seems to predominantly increase hyperinflation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / physiology*
  • Tidal Volume*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed