Effects of recruitment/derecruitment dynamics on the efficacy of variable ventilation
Variable (or noisy) ventilation (VV) has been demonstrated in animal models of acute lung injury to be superior to constant (or conventional) ventilation (CV), in terms of improved gas exchange and mitigation of lung injury, for reasons that are not entirely clear. We hypothesized that the efficacy of VV is related to the fact that recruitment and derecruitment of lung units are dynamic processes. To test this hypothesis, we modeled the lung computationally as a symmetrically bifurcating airway tree terminating in elastic units. Each airway was fully open or completely closed, at any point in time, according to its pressure history. The model is able to accurately mimic previous experimental measurements showing that the lungs of mice injured by acid aspiration are better recruited after 60 min of VV than CV. The model also shows that recruitment/derecruitment dynamics contribute to the relative efficacy of VV, provided lung units open more rapidly than they close once a critical opening or closing pressure threshold has been crossed. We conclude that the dynamics of recruitment and derecruitment in the lung may be important factors responsible for the benefits of VV compared with CV.
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