Some infant ventilators do not limit peak inspiratory pressure reliably during active expiration
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In order to minimize barotrauma in newborn infants with respiratory failure, peak inspiratory pressures should not exceed those required for adequate gas exchange. We examined whether four commonly used pressure-limited, constant flow ventilators limit pressure reliably during simulated active expiration against the inspiratory stroke of the ventilator. Three machines of each type were tested at 13 different expiratory flow rates (2 to 14 L/min). Flow-dependent pressure overshoot above a dialed pressure limit of 20 cm H2O was observed in all machines. However, the magnitude differed significantly between ventilators from different manufacturers (p = .0009). Pressure overshoot above 20 cm H2O was consistently lowest in the Healthdyne (0.8 cm H2O at 2 L/min, 3.6 cm H2O at 14 L/min) and highest in the Bourns BP200 (3.0 cm H2O at 2 L/min, 15.4 cm H2O at 14 L/min). We conclude that peak inspiratory pressure overshoots on pressure-limited ventilators occur during asynchronous expiration. This shortcoming may contribute to barotrauma in newborn infants who "fight" positive-pressure ventilation.
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