Role of positive end-expiratory pressure and regional transpulmonary pressure in asymmetrical lung injury

Luca Bastia, Doreen Engelberts, Kohei Osada, Bhushan H. Katira, L. Felipe Damiani, Takeshi Yoshida, Lu Chen, Niall D. Ferguson, Marcelo B.P. Amato, Martin Post, Brian P. Kavanagh, Laurent Brochard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rationale: Asymmetrical lung injury is a frequent clinical presentation. Regional distribution of VT and positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) could result in hyperinflation of the less-injured lung. The validity of esophageal pressure (Pes) is unknown. Objectives: To compare, in asymmetrical lung injury, Pes with directly measured pleural pressures (Ppl) of both sides and investigate how PEEP impacts ventilation distribution and the regional driving transpulmonary pressure (inspiratory - expiratory). Methods: Fourteen mechanically ventilated pigs with lung injury were studied. One lung was blocked while the contralateral one underwent surfactant lavage and injurious ventilation. Airway pressure and Pes were measured, as was Ppl in the dorsal and ventral pleural space adjacent to each lung. Distribution of ventilation was assessed by electrical impedance tomography. PEEP was studied through decremental steps. Measurements and Results: Ventral and dorsal Ppl were similar between the injured and the noninjured lung across all PEEP levels. Dorsal Ppl and Pes were similar. The driving transpulmonary pressure was similar in the two lungs. VT distribution between lungs was different at zero end-expiratory pressure (≈70% of VT going in noninjured lung) owing to different respiratory system compliance (8.3 ml/cm H2O noninjured lung vs. 3.7 ml/cm H2O injured lung). PEEP at 10 cm H2O with transpulmonary pressure around zero homogenized VT distribution opening the lungs. PEEP >16 cm H2O equalized distribution of VT but with overdistension for both lungs. Conclusions: Despite asymmetrical lung injury, Ppl between injured and noninjured lungs is equalized and esophageal pressure is a reliable estimate of dorsal Ppl. Driving transpulmonary pressure is similar for both lungs. VT distribution results from regional respiratory system compliance. Moderate PEEP homogenizes VT distribution between lungs without generating hyperinflation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-976
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Acute lung injury
  • Esophageal pressure
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Monitoring
  • Respiratory mechanics


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