Impaired pulmonary mechanics can cause chest wall distortion (CWD) so that work of breathing is dissipated in deforming the rib cage. We hypothesized that respiratory mechanical unloading as a technique of assisted mechanical ventilation would reduce CWD in animals with injured lungs. We studied five piglets and five adult rabbits to test across different ages and chest configurations. As a result of intratracheal meconium instillation, lung compliance decreased from 21 (median; range 17-35) to 9.5 (6.7-14) mL/kPa/kg in rabbits and from 26 (1831) to 7.9 (4.9-11) in piglets. Airway resistance increased from 5.0 (4.6-6.1) to 6.9 (5.8-7.9) kPa/L/s in rabbits only. Respiratory inductive plethysmography was used to measure the phase shift between the rib cage and abdominal compartment movements and the total compartmental displacement ratio. We aimed at unloading at least three- fourths of lung elastance in all animals and 2.0 kPa/L/s of resistance in rabbits. Elastic unloading decreased the phase shift in all but one animal. It reduced the total compartmental displacement ratio from 1.27 (1.14 -3.73) to 1.16 (1.02-1.82) in piglets and from 1.77 (1.45-5.24) to 1.37 (1.114.78) in rabbits. The inspiratory rib cage expansion increased, whereas abdominal expansion did not. The tidal esophageal pressure deflection decreased. Tidal volume increased, whereas respiratory rate remained unaffected so that the partial pressure of arterial CO2 decreased. Resistive unloading as an adjunct to elastic unloading further reduced CWD and induced a more rapid, shallower breathing. We conclude that respiratory unloading as a mechanical support to spontaneous breathing reduces CWD. We speculate that the decrease in CWD increases ventilatory efficiency for a given diaphragmatic effort.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health