Patient-Ventilator Interaction During Acute Lung Injury, and the Role of Spontaneous Breathing: Part 2: Airway Pressure Release Ventilation

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Airway pressure release ventilation (APRV) and bi-level positive airway pressure (BIPAP) are proposed to reduce patient work of breathing (WOB) sufficiently and to obviate issues related to patient-ventilator synchrony, so that spontaneous breathing can be maintained throughout the course of acute lung injury (ALI). Thus, APRV/BIPAP should reduce requirements for sedation and muscle paralysis, and thereby reduce the duration of mechanical ventilation. Only 17 human, animal, or lung-model studies have examined these claims, either directly or indirectly. Most did not target patients with ALI. Studies on sedation use have serious methodological limitations. Other studies found that APRV/BIPAP either increased WOB and asynchrony, or had no effect on energy expenditure. To supplement the discussion of patient WOB during APRV/BIPAP in ALI, 4 clinical examples showed marked elevation and wide variation in patient WOB. One plausible explanation is that spontaneous breathing is superimposed upon the mechanical ventilation pattern. Thus a variety of “breathing environments” exist during APRV/BIPAP that affect patient WOB and respiratory drive differently and perhaps unpredictably. This characteristic of APRV/BIPAP makes WOB comparisons with traditional modes problematic. Furthermore, the theoretical benefits of APRV, in terms of controlling patient WOB, appear particularly limited when lung-protective ventilation is used for ALI patients with high minute ventilation demand. Future research should focus on issues of WOB and synchrony, so that reasonable ventilation protocols can be devised to test clinical outcomes against traditional modes. To date, low-level evidence suggests that promoting spontaneous breathing with APRV/BIPAP may not be appropriate in patients with relatively severe ALI/ARDS.

Keywords: acute lung injury; acute respiratory distress syndrome; airway pressure; patient-ventilator synchrony; release ventilation; work of breathing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco at San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, California, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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