Mechanical Breath Profile of Airway Pressure Release Ventilation: The Effect on Alveolar Recruitment and Microstrain in Acute Lung Injury

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IMPORTANCEImproper mechanical ventilation settings can exacerbate acute lung injury by causing a secondary ventilator-induced lung injury. It is therefore important to establish the mechanism by which the ventilator induces lung injury to develop protective ventilation strategies. It has been postulated that the mechanism of ventilator-induced lung injury is the result of heterogeneous, elevated strain on the pulmonary parenchyma. Acute lung injury has been associated with increases in whole-lung macrostrain, which is correlated with increased pathology. However, the effect of mechanical ventilation on alveolar microstrain remains unknown.OBJECTIVETo examine whether the mechanical breath profile of airway pressure release ventilation (APRV), consisting of a prolonged pressure-time profile and brief expiratory release phase, reduces microstrain.DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTSIn a randomized, nonblinded laboratory animal study, rats were randomized into a controlled mandatory ventilation group (n = 3) and an APRV group (n = 3). Lung injury was induced by polysorbate lavage. A thoracotomy was performed and an in vivo microscope was placed on the lungs to measure alveolar mechanics.MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURESIn the controlled mandatory ventilation group, multiple levels of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP; 5, 10, 16, 20, and 24 cm H2O) were tested. In the APRV group, decreasing durations of expiratory release (time at low pressure [Tlow]) were tested. The Tlow was set to achieve ratios of termination of peak expiratory flow rate (T-PEFR) to peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) of 10%, 25%, 50%, and 75% (the smaller this ratio is [ie, 10%], the more time the lung is exposed to low pressure during the release phase, which decreases end-expiratory lung volume and potentiates derecruitment). Alveolar perimeters were measured at peak inspiration and end expiration using digital image analysis, and strain was calculated by normalizing the change in alveolar perimeter length to the original length. Macrostrain was measured by volume displacement.RESULTSHigher PEEP (16-24 cm H2O) and a brief Tlow (APRV T-PEFR to PEFR ratio of 75%) reduced microstrain. Microstrain was minimized with an APRV T-PEFR to PEFR ratio of 75% (mean [SEM], 0.05 [0.03]) and PEEP of 16 cm H2O (mean [SEM], 0.09 [0.08]), but an APRV T-PEFR to PEFR ratio of 75% also promoted alveolar recruitment compared with PEEP of 16 cm H2O (mean [SEM] total inspiratory area, 52.0% [2.9%] vs 29.4% [4.3%], respectively; P < .05). Whole-lung strain was correlated with alveolar microstrain in tested settings (P < .05) except PEEP of 16 cm H2O (P > .05).CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCEIncreased positive-end expiratory pressure and reduced time at low pressure (decreased Tlow) reduced alveolar microstrain. Reduced microstrain and improved alveolar recruitment using an APRV T-PEFR to PEFR ratio of 75% may be the mechanism of lung protection seen in previous clinical and animal studies.

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