Double Cycling During Mechanical Ventilation: Frequency, Mechanisms, and Physiologic Implications*

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Abstract

Objectives:

Double cycling generates larger than expected tidal volumes that contribute to lung injury. We analyzed the incidence, mechanisms, and physiologic implications of double cycling during volume- and pressure-targeted mechanical ventilation in critically ill patients.

Design:

Prospective, observational study.

Setting:

Three general ICUs in Spain.

Patients:

Sixty-seven continuously monitored adult patients undergoing volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with constant flow, volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with decelerated flow, or pressure control-continuous mandatory mechanical ventilation for longer than 24 hours.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements and Main Results:

We analyzed 9,251 hours of mechanical ventilation corresponding to 9,694,573 breaths. Double cycling occurred in 0.6%. All patients had double cycling; however, the distribution of double cycling varied over time. The mean percentage (95% CI) of double cycling was higher in pressure control-continuous mandatory ventilation 0.54 (0.34–0.87) than in volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with constant flow 0.27 (0.19–0.38) or volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with decelerated flow 0.11 (0.06–0.20). Tidal volume in double-cycled breaths was higher in volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with constant flow and volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with decelerated flow than in pressure control-continuous mandatory ventilation. Double-cycled breaths were patient triggered in 65.4% and reverse triggered (diaphragmatic contraction stimulated by a previous passive ventilator breath) in 34.6% of cases; the difference was largest in volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with decelerated flow (80.7% patient triggered and 19.3% reverse triggered). Peak pressure of the second stacked breath was highest in volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with constant flow regardless of trigger type. Various physiologic factors, none mutually exclusive, were associated with double cycling.

Conclusions:

Double cycling is uncommon but occurs in all patients. Periods without double cycling alternate with periods with clusters of double cycling. The volume of the stacked breaths can double the set tidal volume in volume control-continuous mandatory ventilation with constant flow. Gas delivery must be tailored to neuroventilatory demand because interdependent ventilator setting–related physiologic factors can contribute to double cycling. One third of double-cycled breaths were reverse triggered, suggesting that repeated respiratory muscle activation after time-initiated ventilator breaths occurs more often than expected.

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