Effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure on Diaphragm Dimensions in Preterm Infants

Rehan, Virender K; Laiprasert, Joann; Nakashima, James M; Wallach, Michael; McCool, Franklin D
December 2001
Journal of Perinatology;Dec2001, Vol. 21 Issue 8, p521
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVE: The use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in the treatment of a variety of neonatal respiratory conditions is associated with improvement in arterial oxygen saturation, decreased long-term morbidity, and an overall improvement in infant survival. We reasoned that CPAP might change diaphragm length by increasing end-expiratory lung volume (EEV), but the extent to which this occurs has not been assessed. This study was designed to evaluate (1) the extent to which CPAP shortens the diaphragm and (2) the relationship of diaphragm thickness and excursion with arterial oxygen saturation in spontaneously breathing preterm infants. STUDY DESIGN: Ultrasonographically (7.5 MHz transducer), diaphragm thickness and diaphragm excursion were measured in 12 stable preterm infants [birth weight 1120 ± 225 g (mean ± SD); study weight 1187 ± 400 g; gestational age 29 ± 1 week; postnatal age 10 ± 8 days, six males and six females] at three levels of CPAP [1-3, 4-6, and 7-9 cm H[SUB2]O (low, medium, and high, respectively)]. Heart rate, respiratory rate, and arterial oxygen saturation were simultaneously recorded. RESULTS: We found that diaphragm thickness and arterial oxygen saturation increased, and diaphragm excursion decreased significantly at higher levels of CPAP (p < 0.05). The shortening of the diaphragm at the high levels of CPAP, calculated from the increase in diaphragm thickness, was 36% at EEV and 31% at end-inspiratory volume. CONCLUSION: We conclude that the improvement in arterial oxygen saturation with CPAP occurred despite the presence of a shorter and a less mobile diaphragm, and that other physiological and mechanical alterations accompanying the application of CPAP offset its negative effects on diaphragm function. We speculate that with excessive CPAP, however, diaphragm dysfunction along with the previously described adverse hemodynamic effects may outweigh its benefits on oxygenation.


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