Chestwall compliance in full-term and premature infants

T. Gerhardt, Eduardo Bancalari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

126 Scopus citations


Chestwall compliance was determined in 26 premature infants (BW 1320 ± 410 g, gest. age 32 wk) and in 10 full-term infants (BW 3155 ± 810 g) who were ventilated mechanically. Chestwall compliance in premature infants was 6.4 ml/cmH2Oxkg), decreasing with advancing gestational age to 4.2 ml/(cmH2Oxkg) in full-term infants. There was a linear correlation (r = 0.95 and 0.79, respectively) between tidal volume and the pressure transmitted to the esophagus throughout the tidal volume range. The portion of airway pressure transmitted to the esophagus depended on the infant's lung compliance. Only 5% was transmitted in infants with hyaline membrane disease, 12% in newborns with a patent ductus arteriosus, 17% in normal prematures and 25% in normal full-term infants. The findings suggest that during mechanical ventilation the high chestwall compliance and low lung compliance of premature infants prevent a significant rise in intrapleural pressure which could interfere with central venous return and cardiac output. However, using high inspiratory pressures and continuous distending airway pressure in the absence of lung pathology may result in a decreased cardiac output. The highly compliant chestwall of the premature infant may exert insufficient outward recoil and might be one of the causes of a low functional residual capacity and chronic pulmonary failure in the premature infant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalActa Paediatrica Scandinavica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1980


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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