Effects of descending positive end-expiratory pressure on lung mechanics and aeration in healthy anaesthetized piglets.
INTRODUCTION: Atelectasis and distal airway closure are common clinical entities of general anaesthesia. These two phenomena are expected to reduce the ventilation of dependent lung regions and represent major causes of arterial oxygenation impairment in anaesthetic conditions. In the present study, the behavior of the elastance of the respiratory system (Ers), as well as the lung aeration assessed by CT-scan, was evaluated during a descendent positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) titration. This work sought to evaluate the potential usefulness of the Ers monitoring to set the PEEP in order to prevent tidal recruitment and hyperinflation of healthy lungs under general anaesthesia. METHODS: PEEP titration (from 16 to 0 cmH2O, with a tidal volume of 8 ml/kg) was performed, and at each PEEP, helical CT-scans were obtained during end-expiratory and end-inspiratory pauses in six healthy, anaesthetized and paralyzed piglets. The distribution of lung compartments (hyperinflated (HA), normally- (NA), poorly- (PA), and non-aerated areas (N)) was determined and the tidal re-aeration was calculated as the difference between end-expiratory and end-inspiratory PA and NA areas. Similarly, the tidal hyperinflation was obtained as the difference between end-inspiratory and end-expiratory HA. The Ers was estimated on a breath-by-breath basis from the equation of motion of the respiratory system during all PEEP titration with the least squares method. RESULTS: HA decreased throughout PEEP descent from PEEP 16 cmH2O to ZEEP (ranges from 24-62% to 1-7% at end-expiratory and from 44-73% to 4-17% at end-inspiratory pauses) whereas NA areas increased (30-66% to 72-83% at end-expiratory and from 19-48% to 73-77% at end-inspiratory pauses). From 16 to 8 cmH2O, Ers decreased with a correspondent reduction in tidal hyperinflation. A flat minimum of Ers was observed from 8 to 4 cmH2O. For PEEP below 4 cmH2O, Ers increased associated with a rise in tidal re-aeration and a flat maximum of the NA areas. CONCLUSION: In healthy piglets under a descending PEEP protocol, the PEEP at minimum Ers presented a compromise between maximizing NA areas and minimizing tidal re-aeration and hyperinflation. High levels of PEEP, greater than 8 cmH2O, reduced tidal re-aeration but enlarged hyperinflation with a concomitant decrease in normally aerated areas.