BACKGROUND: Assessment of intrinsic dynamic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEPi,dyn) may be clinically important in stable patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but epidemiological data are scant.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of our study was (i) to assess the PEEPi,dyn in a large population of stable patients with COPD and (ii) to evaluate the correlations with some noninvasive measurements routinely assessed.
METHOD: Retrospective analysis of lung mechanics, dynamic volumes, arterial blood gases, dyspnoea by means of the Medical Research Council (MRC) scale, the COPD Assessment Test score, and maximal inspiratory/expiratory pressures in 87 hypercapnic and 62 normocapnic patients.
RESULTS: The mean PEEPi,dyn was significantly higher in hypercapnic than normocapnic patients (2.8 ± 2.2 vs. 1.9 ± 1.6 cm H2O, respectively, p = 0.0094). PEEPi,dyn did not differ according to Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage, MRC score, or use or not of long-term oxygen therapy. There were significant although weak correlations between PEEPi,dyn and airway obstruction, hyperinflation, respiratory muscle function, arterial CO2 tension, and number of exacerbations/year. The transdiaphragmatic pressure was the strongest variable associated to PEEPi,dyn (R = 0.5713, p = 0.001).
CONCLUSION: In stable patients with COPD, PEEPi,dyn is higher in hypercapnic patients and weakly correlated to noninvasive measures of lung and respiratory muscle function.