Objective: To test the hypothesis that conventional mechanical ventilation (CV) provides a greater stimulus to secretion of pulmonary surfactant than high frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFO).
Methodology: Sequential examination of surfactant indices in lung lavage fluid in a group of six infants with severe lung disease (group 1), ventilated with HFO and then converted back to CV as their lung disease recovered. A similar group of 10 infants (group 2) ventilated conventionally throughout the course of their illness were studied for comparison. In groups 1 and 2, two sequential tracheal aspirate samples were taken, the first once lung disease was noted to be improving, and the second 48-72 h later. Group 1 infants had converted from HFO to CV during this time.
Results: A marked increase in concentration of total surfactant phospholipid (PL) and disaturated phosphatidylcholine (DSPC) was seen in group 1 after transition from HFO to CV; the magnitude of this increase was significantly greater than that sequentially observed in group II (total PL: 9.4-fold increase in group 1 vs 1.8-fold in group 2, P = 0.006; DSPC: group 1 6.4-fold increase vs. group 2 1.7-fold, P = 0.02).
Conclusion: These findings suggest that intermittent lung inflation during CV produces more secretion of surfactant phospholipid than continuous alveolar distension on HFO, and raise the possibility that conservation and additional maturation of surfactant elements may occur when the injured lung is ventilated with HFO.