Lung and chest wall mechanics in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and severe Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia

E. D'Angelo, E. Calderini, F. M. Robatto, P. Puccio, J. Milic-Emili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to assess the mechanical characteristics of the respiratory system in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). In 12 mechanically ventilated patients, total respiratory system mechanics was assessed using the technique of rapid airway occlusion during constant flow inflation, and was partitioned into lung and chest wall components using the oesophageal balloon technique. We measured interrupter resistance (Rint), which mainly reflects airway resistance, additional resistance (ΔR) due to viscoelastic behaviour and time constant inequalities, and static elastance (Est). In addition, the static inflation volume-pressure (V-P) curve was assessed. In eight patients, computed tomography scans were performed within 2 days of the assessment of respiratory mechanics. Compared to values reported in the literature for normal subjects, Est and ΔR were markedly increased in AIDS patients with PCP, whilst Rint exhibited a relatively smaller increase. These changes, which involved only the lung and airways, were mainly due to the reduction of ventilated lung units, but additional factors were involved to cause independent modifications of lung stiffness, airway calibre, and viscoelastic properties. The changes in Rint, ΔR, and Est were similar to those observed in other studies on patients with ARDS of different aetiologies. At variance with common observations in the latter patients, none of the AIDS patients with PCP exhibited an inflection point on the static inflation V-P curve, suggesting little or no alveolar recruitment during lung inflation. This finding could be related to the distinctive histopathology of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Indeed, computed tomography revealed homogeneous diffuse interstitial and alveolar infiltration rather than the dense, dependent opacities observed in other studies on acute respiratory distress syndrome of different aetiologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2343-2350
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1997


  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • Adult respiratory distress syndrome
  • Inspiratory work
  • Respiratory mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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