Extrathoracic airway (ETA) stability was tested by inspiratory flow-resistive loading in 10 preterm infants to determine whether ETA collapsibility was directly related to the size of the added load. A fall in intraluminal pressure was produced by applying two inspiratory flow-resistive loads of lower (L1) and higher (L2) magnitudes. An increase in intrinsic resistance was used as an index of upper airway collapsibility. Total pulmonary resistance did not change from baseline with L1 (73 ± 26 to 71 ± 25 cmH2O · l-1 · s) but increased significantly with L2 (72 ± 21 to 99 ± 34 cmH2O · l-1 · s, P < 0.02) secondary to a rise in inspiratory resistance (55 ± 21 to 109 ± 55 cmH2O · l-1 · s, P < 0.05). Expiratory resistance did not change significantly with either load. Proximal airway pressure was more negative with L2 than with L1 in every infant (mean -4.5 ± 0.6 vs. -3.6 ± 0.9 cmH2O, P < 0.05). This study shows that the ETA of preterm infants is pressure passive at high but not at low collapsing pressures, and possible explanations include limited 'active' compensation by upper airway dilator muscles and an overwhelming of the 'passive' defense offered by the intrinsic rigidity of the ETA to large changes in transmural pressure.
- extrathoracic airway stability
- incremental loading
- premature infant
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation