Effect of PEEP and suction via chest drain on functional residual capacity and lung compliance after surgical repair of congenital diaphragmatic hernia: preliminary observations in 5 patients

J Dinger, M Peter-Kern, P Goebel, D Roesner, R Schwarze
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2000, 35 (10): 1482-8

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is associated with pulmonary hypoplasia that limits survival. The authors' knowledge on lung mechanics and lung volumes in these patients with hypoplastic lungs is still limited. Therefore, the authors performed measurements of functional residual capacity (FRC), compliance of the respiratory system (CRS), and tidal volume in 5 full-term infants (gestational age, 38 to 40 weeks; birth weight, 2,800 to 3,530 g) before and after surgical repair of neonatal CDH.

METHODS: The authors studied the influence of different levels of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) and suction via inserted ipsilateral chest tube connected to a water seal on lung volume and lung mechanics. A computerized tracer gas (SF6) washout method was used for serial measurements of FRC. Compliance of the respiratory system was determined according to insufflatory method.

RESULTS: The authors found a preoperative compliance between 1.5 and 3.9 mL/kPa/kg and a preoperative FRC between 9.1 and 12.9 mL/kg indicating severe hypoplasia of the lungs in all patients. Immediately after surgical repair of CDH, compliance decreased to 85% (78% to 91%) of preoperative value, and FRC increased to 132% (110% to 150%) of preoperative value under mechanical ventilation while at 4 cm of water of PEEP and at -10 cm of water of suction via chest drain with the need of high fraction of inspired oxygen. After reduction of PEEP from 4 to 2 or 1 cm of water and lowering suction from -10 cm of water to -2 or 0 cm of water FRC decreased to 103% (80% to 122%) of preoperative value and compliance, and tidal volume improved to 135% (110% to 147%) of preoperative value resulting in increased alveolar ventilation, correction of acidosis and improvement in oxygenation. During the first days after surgery inadequate high PEEP or strong suction via chest tube drainage resulted in increase in FRC paralleled by decrease in compliance indicating overdistension of these hypoplastic lungs.

CONCLUSIONS: The data show that overdistension of hypoplastic lungs in infants with CDH can be detected and excluded by repeated measurements of FRC and compliance in these critical ill infants. These data might help setting appropriate ventilator parameters, adequate suction via chest drain, and thereby improve gas exchange and outcome.

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