Measurement of pleural pressure swings with a fluid-filled esophageal catheter vs pulmonary artery occlusion pressure☆, ☆☆

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Pleural pressure measured with esophageal balloon catheters (Peso) can guide ventilator management and help with the interpretation of hemodynamic measurements, but these catheters are not readily available or easy to use. We tested the utility of an inexpensive, fluid-filled esophageal catheter (Peso) by comparing respiratory-induced changes in pulmonary artery occlusion (Ppao), central venous (CVP), and Peso pressures.


We studied 30 patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery who had pulmonary artery and esophageal catheters in place. Proper placement was confirmed by chest compression with airway occlusion. Measurements were made during pressure-regulated volume control (VC) and pressure support (PS) ventilation.


The fluid-filled esophageal catheter provided a high-quality signal. During VC and PS, change in Ppao (ΔPpao) was greater than ΔPeso (bias = −2 mm Hg) indicating an inspiratory increase in cardiac filling. During VC, ΔCVP bias was 0 indicating no change in right heart filling, but during PS, CVP fell less than Peso indicating an inspiratory increase in filling. Peso measurements detected activation of expiratory muscles, development of non–west zone 3 lung conditions during inspiration, and ventilator-triggered inspiratory efforts.


A fluid-filled esophageal catheter provides a high-quality, easily accessible, and inexpensive measure of change in pleural pressure and provided insights into patient-ventilator interactions.

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