Background: Spontaneous breathing (SB) in the early phase of the acute respiratory distress syndrome is controversial. Biphasic positive airway pressure/airway pressure release ventilation (BIPAP/APRV) is commonly used, but the level of SB necessary to maximize potential beneficial effects is unknown.
Methods: Experimental acute respiratory distress syndrome was induced by saline lung lavage in anesthetized and mechanically ventilated pigs (n = 12). By using a Latin square and crossover design, animals were ventilated with BIPAP/APRV at four different levels of SB in total minute ventilation (60 min each): (1) 0% (BIPAP/APRV0%); (2) greater than 0 to 30% (BIPAP/APRV>0–30%); (3) greater than 30 to 60% (BIPAP/APRV>30–60%); and (4) greater than 60% (BIPAP/APRV>60%). Gas exchange, hemodynamics, and respiratory variables were measured. Lung aeration was assessed by high-resolution computed tomography. The distribution of perfusion was marked with 68Ga-labeled microspheres and evaluated by positron emission tomography.
Results: The authors found that higher levels of SB during BIPAP/APRV (1) improved oxygenation; (2) decreased mean transpulmonary pressure (stress) despite increased inspiratory effort; (3) reduced nonaerated lung tissue, with minimal changes in the distribution of perfusion, resulting in decreased low aeration/perfusion zones; and (4) decreased global strain (mean ± SD) (BIPAP/APRV0%: 1.39 ± 0.08; BIPAP/APRV0–30%: 1.33 ± 0.03; BIPAP/APRV30–60%: 1.27 ± 0.06; BIPAP/APRV>60%: 1.25 ± 0.04, P < 0.05 all vs. BIPAP/APRV0%, and BIPAP/APRV>60% vs. BIPAP/APRV0–30%).
Conclusions: In a saline lung lavage model of experimental acute respiratory distress syndrome in pigs, levels of SB during BIPAP/APRV higher than currently recommended for clinical practice, that is, 10 to 30%, improve oxygenation by increasing aeration in dependent lung zones without relevant redistribution of perfusion. In presence of lung recruitment, higher levels of SB reduce global stress and strain despite an increase in inspiratory effort.