Monday, November 30, 2015

Changing Flow Patterns vs. Changing Ventilator Modes

Figure 1: Various flow patterns within VC-CMVs on the Hamilton G5 Ventilator.
When a device operator thinks about changing the inspiratory flow pattern while administering a Volume-Controlled breathing pattern they do not assume it will change the mode of ventilation. 

However newer software in the Servo-i allows the operator to change the flow pattern 
from the traditional constant flow pattern, to either a fully decelerating  flow pattern (similar to PC-CMV) or to adaptive flow (Fig. 2).  The Adaptive Flow pattern was the default in older software which makes Volume Control a Dual Control mode [1].  The operator now has a choice of using Volume Control as a traditional VC-CMV mode by selecting the square waveform or providing a Dual Control breathing pattern by selecting the Adaptive Flow icon. 

Figure 2: Flow patterns available on the Servo-i, courtesy of Robert Chatburn. 
For more information on flow patterns and Dual Control see the below links.




Monday, November 23, 2015


In a previous post "APRV in the operating room is it practical?"  I argue that bringing a ICU ventilator into the operating room to utilize APRV is not practical and may lead to hypoventilation and hypoxia due to administration of anesthetic agents [1].

During surgical procedures the patient is maintained in stage 3 of anesthesia known as the "surgical stage". Stage 3 is broken down into four distinct planes, "from onset of automatic respiration to respiratory paralysis" [2]. The patient is usually maintained in Plane 3 (intercostal muscle paralysis) or Plane 4 (diaphragmatic paralysis) leading to the cessation of spontaneous breaths.

One key advantage of APRV is that the patient may breathe spontaneously contributing to the overall minute volume, with the termination of spontaneous efforts the patient will become severely hypercapnic.

Below is an image (fig 1) I captured from a "Pressure Control Ventilation Simulator" [3] demonstrating an ARDS patient on APRV.

Figure 1. Pressure Control Ventilation Simulator, notice patients PaCO2 at 100.7 mmHg.

Notice in figure 1 the outcome for a patient not contributing to the overall minute ventilation the PaCO2 would be 100.7 mmHg. 

Another example of how APRV maybe harmful in the operating room is when trying to mimic APRV with a anesthesia delivery system.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Volume Control Ventilation Fallacy

Volume Control- Continuous Mandatory Ventilation with a “Set-point” targeting scheme (VC-CMV(s)) is likely the most utilized mode of mechanical ventilation in adult patients in North America. This is due to a few a reasons:

1.      VC-CMV is a standard mode on almost every intensive care ventilator and anesthesia delivery system.
2.      VC-CMV is one of the first modes of mechanical ventilation.
3.      VC-CMV is easy to understand in both theory and operation.
4.      VC-CMV is the standard of care when ventilating patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and Acute Lung Injury (ALI).
5.      VC-CMV is the standard of care for adult patients intraoperatively.

The key advantage of VC-CMV(s) is the safety and simplicity of the set-point targeting scheme. The operator can manually set all parameters of the volume/flow waveform and adjust the minimum minute ventilation parameters (relating to frequency and tidal volume). “One can quickly trouble-shoot a patient’s situation, so during a change the operator can diagnose the problem and intervene rapidly”. [1]

When one sees a mode of ventilation labeled “Volume Control”, “VC”, “Volume A/C”, or “CMV” it affirms that the breathing pattern delivered to the patient will consist of a constant tidal volume and inspiratory flow waveform (fig. 1) 

Figure 1. Volume Control Ventilation Breath Pattern.

Figure 2. Volume and Flow waveform remains constant even-though compliance decreased to 25, compared to Figure 1.  

regardless of changes in a patient’s respiratory system mechanics and/or inspiratory drive (fig. 2) [2]. Conversely, due to no industry standard for ventilator mode taxonomy and medical device manufacturers marketing schemes the actual breath delivered to the patient does not resemble the predicted breath pattern and may result in a tidal volume much larger than the expected preset value.

How does this happen?