Nasal proportional assist ventilation unloads the inspiratory muscles of stable patients with hypercapnia due to COPD

G. Polese, M. Vitacca, L. Bianchi, A. Rossi, N. Ambrosino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study was undertaken to assess the physiological effects of proportional assist ventilation (PAV), administered noninvasively through a nose mask, on ventilatory pattern, arterial blood gases, lung mechanics, and inspiratory muscle effort in stable, hypercapnic patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 15 patients, PAV was set by adjusting volume assist (VA) and flow assist (FA) according to the 'run-away' technique and the patient's comfort respectively. The level of support was fixed at 80% of the total possible assistance and averaged 13.9±4.1 cmH2O·L-1 and 4.1±1.3 cmH2O·L-1σ for VA and FA, respectively. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) was established at 2 cmH2O and then increased to 5 cmH2O. Physiological measurements were made during spontaneous breathing (SB), after more than 40 min of PAV, and 20 min after the rise in CPAP. On average, PAV improved ventilation (10.3±2.1 to 12.5±2.0 L·m-1), tidal volume (0.60±0.11 to 0.76±0.24 L), arterial oxygen tension and arterial carbon dioxide pressure (from 6.7±0.7 to 7.1±0.9 and from 7.6±1.0 to 7.2±1.2 kPa, respectively). During SB, pulmonary resistance and dynamic lung elastance averaged 15.0±7.6 cmH2O·L-1·s and 15.8±8.0 cmH2O·L-1, respectively. Assuming a normal chest wall elastance (5 cmH2O·L-1), VA and FA relieved respectively ~70% of the elastic and 30% of the resistive burden, with PAV set with the procedure of this study. The overall magnitude of the patients' inspiratory effort, measured by means of the oesophageal and diaphragmatic pressure time product in 10 patients was significantly reduced by PAV, on average, 328±122 to 226±118 (-31%) and 361±119 to 254±126 (-30%) cmH2O · min-1, respectively. In 10 patients the electrical activity of the diaphragm (Edi) was also reduced by PAV to ~70%, on average, of the SB activity. The rise of CPAP 2-5 cmH2O did not cause any further significant change in the physiological variables. In all instances there was a good patient-ventilator interaction, the ventilatory breath never entering into the patient's neural expiratory time. These data show that nasal proportional assist ventilation can provide physiological benefits to the stable hypercapnic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. In fact, proportional assist ventilation, which was well tolerated by all patients, unloaded the inspiratory muscles and improved arterial blood gases. Further studies can clarify whether these beneficial physiological effects of nasal proportional assist ventilation can bear profitable consequences in the overall clinical management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients with chronic carbon dioxide retention. (C) ERS Journals Ltd 2000.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-498
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Chronic obstructive
  • Chronic respiratory failure
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Proportional assist ventilation
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Respiratory muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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