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Pulmonary vascular–bronchial interactions: acute reduction in pulmonary blood flow alters lung mechanics


BACKGROUND Postoperative pulmonary hypertension in children after congenital heart surgery is a risk factor for death and is associated with severe acute changes in both pulmonary vascular resistance and lung mechanics.

OBJECTIVE To examine the impact of changes in pulmonary blood flow on lung mechanics in preoperative children with congenital heart disease, in order to assess the cause–effect relation of pulmonary vascular–bronchial interactions.

DESIGN Prospective, cross sectional study.

SETTING Cardiac catheterisation laboratory, general anaesthesia with mechanical ventilation.

INTERVENTIONS Variation of pulmonary blood flow (Qp) by either balloon occlusion of an atrial septal defect before interventional closure, or by complete occlusion of the pulmonary artery during balloon pulmonary valvuloplasty for pulmonary valve stenosis.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Ventilatory tidal volume (Vt), dynamic respiratory system compliance (Cdyn), respiratory system resistance (Rrs).

RESULTS 28 occlusions were examined in nine patients with atrial septal defect (median age 9.5 years) and 22 in eight patients with pulmonary stenosis (median age 1.2 years). Normalisation of Qp during balloon occlusion of atrial septal defect caused no significant change in airway pressures and Rrs, but there was a small decrease in Vt (mean (SD): 9.61 (0.85) to 9.52 (0.97) ml/kg; p < 0.05) and Cdyn (0.64 (0.11) to 0.59 (0.10) ml/cm H2O*kg; p < 0.01). These changes were more pronounced when there was complete cessation of Qp during balloon valvuloplasty in pulmonary stenosis, with a fall in Vt (9.71 (2.95) to 9.32 (2.84) ml/kg; p < 0.05) and Cdyn (0.72 (0.29) to 0.64 (0.26) ml/cm H2O*kg; p < 0.001), and there was also an increase in Rrs (25.1 (1.7) to 28.8 (1.6) cm H2O/litre*s; p < 0.01). All these changes exceeded the variability of the baseline measurements more than threefold.

CONCLUSIONS Acute changes in pulmonary blood flow are associated with simultaneous changes in lung mechanics. While these changes are small they may represent a valid model to explain the pathophysiological impact of spontaneous changes in pulmonary blood flow in clinically more critical situations in children with congenital heart disease.

  • pulmonary blood flow
  • lung mechanics
  • catheter intervention
  • cardiopulmonary interaction

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