We studied patients undergoing elective pulmonary surgery to establish whether observing interrupted expiratory flow (IEF) on the flow-volume curves constructed by the Ultima SV respiratory monitor is a reliable way to identify patients with dynamic pulmonary hyperinflation and intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP (i)). Patients' tracheas were intubated with a double-lumen endotracheal tube and ventilated with a Siemens 900C constant flow ventilator. In 30 patients, PEEPi was determined by the end-expiratory occlusion (EEO) method during the periods of two-lung and one-lung ventilation in the lateral position. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and diagnostic accuracy of the IEF method were calculated. From the 122 measurement pairs, PEEPi was identified with the EEO method in 65 occasions. The mean level of PEEPi was 4.4 cm H2 O. During one-lung ventilation, the level of PEEPi and the number of true-positive findings was significantly higher (PEEPi = 4.7 cm H2 O and 32 episodes) than during two-lung ventilation (2.9 cm H2 O and 19 episodes). When the level of PEEPi was higher than 5 cm H2 O, the predictive value of IEF was 100%. The overall sensitivity of the IEF method was 0.78, its specificity was 0.91, and its predictive value was 0.92. In conclusion, examination of the flow-volume curves displayed on the respiratory monitor may identify patients with dynamic hyperinflation and PEEP (i) during anesthesia for thoracic surgery. Implications: To identify patients with intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure during anesthesia without the need to interrupt mechanical ventilation, the flow-volume curves of an online respiratory monitor may be examined. The presence of an interrupted expiratory flow may suggest the presence of intrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure with a reasonable accuracy.
(Anesth Analg 1998;86:880-4)