Increasing tidal volumes and pulmonary overdistention adversely affect pulmonary vascular mechanics and cardiac output in a pediatric swine model

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In a pediatric swine model, the effects of increasing tidal volumes and the subsequent development of pulmonary overdistention on cardiopulmonary interactions were studied. The objective was to test the hypothesis that increasing tidal volumes adversely affect pulmonary vascular mechanics and cardiac output. An additional goal was to determine whether the effects of pulmonary overdistention are dependent on delivered tidal volume and/or positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP, end-expiratory lung volume).


Prospective, randomized, controlled laboratory trial.


University research laboratory.


Eleven 4- to 6-wk-old swine, weighing 8 to 12 kg.


Piglets with normal lungs were anesthetized, intubated, and paralyzed. After median sternotomy, pressure transducers were placed in the right ventricle, pulmonary artery, and left atrium. An ultrasonic flow probe was placed around the pulmonary artery.

Measurements and Main Results

The swine were ventilated and data were collected with delivered tidal volumes of 10, 15, 20, and 25 mL/kg and PEEP settings of 5 and 10 cm H2 O in a random order. Pulmonary overdistention was defined as a decrease in dynamic compliance of >or=to20% when compared with a compliance measured at a baseline tidal volume of 10 mL/kg. At this baseline tidal volume, airway pressure-volume curves did not demonstrate pulmonary overdistention. Tidal volumes and airway pressures were measured by a pneumotachometer and the Pediatric Pulmonary Function Workstation. Inspiratory time (0.75 sec), FIO2 (0.3), and minute ventilation were held constant. We evaluated the pulmonary vascular and cardiac effects of the various tidal volume and PEEP settings by measuring pulmonary vascular resistance, pulmonary characteristic impedance, and cardiac output.


Increasing tidal volumes, increasing PEEP levels, and the development of pulmonary overdistention had detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system by increasing pulmonary vascular resistance and characteristic impedance while significantly decreasing cardiac output. Delivered tidal volumes of >15 mL/kg should be utilized cautiously. Careful monitoring of respiratory mechanics and cardiac function, especially in neonatal and pediatric patients, is warranted. (Crit Care Med 1998; 26:710-716)

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