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Computer-Assisted Piston-Driven Ventilator for Total Liquid Breathing

Authors: Miguel A. Gómez, Enrique Hilario, Francisco J. Alvarez, Elena Gastiasoro, Antonia Alvarez, Jose A. Casla, Jorge Arguinchona, Juan L. Larrabe


Total liquid ventilation can support gas exchange in animal models of lung injury. Clinical application awaits further technical improvements and performance verification. Our aim was to develop a liquid ventilator, able to deliver accurate tidal volumes, and a computerized system for measuring lung mechanics. The computer-assisted, piston-driven respirator controlled ventilatory parameters that were displayed and modified on a real-time basis. Pressure and temperature transducers along with a lineal displacement controller provided the necessary signals to calculate lung mechanics. Ten newborn lambs (<6 days old) with respiratory failure induced by lung lavage, were monitored using the system. Electromechanical, hydraulic and data acquisition/analysis components of the ventilator were developed and tested in animals with respiratory failure. All pulmonary signals were collected synchronized in time, displayed in real-time, and archived on digital media. The total mean error (due to transducers, A/D conversion, amplifiers, etc.) was less than 5% compared to calibrated signals. Improvements in gas exchange and lung mechanics were observed during liquid ventilation, without impairment of cardiovascular profiles. The total liquid ventilator maintained accurate control of tidal volumes and the sequencing of inspiration/expiration. The computerized system demonstrated its ability to monitor in vivo lung mechanics, providing valuable data for early decision-making.

Keywords: Immature lamb, perfluorocarbon, pressure-limited, total liquid ventilation, ventilator, volume-controlled

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