Pulmonary injury after cardiopulmonary bypass: Beneficial effects of low-frequency mechanical ventilation

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Pulmonary dysfunction is a frequent postoperative complication after cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass, and atelectasis is thought to be one of the main causes. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether low-frequency ventilation and continuous positive airway pressure during cardiopulmonary bypass reduce postcardiopulmonary bypass lung injury.


Eighteen Yorkshire pigs were subjected to 120 minutes of cardiopulmonary bypass (1 hour of cardioplegic arrest) followed by 90 minutes of recovery before being sacrificed. Six animals served as control with the endotracheal tube open to atmosphere during cardiopulmonary bypass. The remaining animals were divided into 2 groups of 6: One group received continuous positive airway pressure of 5 cm H2O, and one group received low-frequency ventilation (5/minutes) during cardiopulmonary bypass. Lung tissue biopsy and bronchoalveolar lavage samples were obtained before and 90 minutes after discontinuation of cardiopulmonary bypass for measurement of adenine nucleotide (adenosine-5′-triphosphate, adenosine diphosphate, adenosine monophosphate), lactate dehydrogenase, DNA levels, and histology. Hemodynamic data and arterial blood gases were also collected through the study.


The hemodynamic parameters were similar in the 3 groups. After cardiopulmonary bypass, the low-frequency ventilation group showed significantly better oxygen tension and alveolar arterial oxygen gradient, higher adenine nucleotide, lower lactate dehydrogenase levels, and reduced histologic damage in lung biopsy, as well as lower DNA levels in bronchoalveolar lavage compared with the control group. The continuous positive airway pressure group showed only significantly reduced lactate dehydrogenase levels compared with control.


Low-frequency ventilation during cardiopulmonary bypass in a pig experimental model reduces tissue metabolic and histologic damage in the lungs and is associated with improved postoperative gas exchange.

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