Edematous lungs contain regions with heterogeneous alveolar flooding. Liquid is trapped in flooded alveoli by a pressure barrier—higher liquid pressure at the border than in the center of flooded alveoli—that is proportional to surface tension, T. Stress is concentrated between aerated and flooded alveoli, to a degree proportional to T. Mechanical ventilation, by cyclically increasing T, injuriously exacerbates stress concentrations. Overcoming the pressure barrier to redistribute liquid more homogeneously between alveoli should reduce stress concentration prevalence and ventilation injury. In isolated rat lungs, we test whether accelerated deflation can overcome the pressure barrier and catapult liquid out of flooded alveoli. We generate a local edema model with normal T by microinfusing liquid into surface alveoli. We generate a global edema model with high T by establishing hydrostatic edema, which does not alter T, and then gently ventilating the edematous lungs, which increases T at 15 cmH2O transpulmonary pressure by 52%. Thus ventilation of globally edematous lungs increases T, which should increase stress concentrations and, with positive feedback, cause escalating ventilation injury. In the local model, when the pressure barrier is moderate, accelerated deflation causes liquid to escape from flooded alveoli and redistribute more equitably. Flooding heterogeneity tends to decrease. In the global model, accelerated deflation causes liquid escape, but—because of elevated T—the liquid jumps to nearby, aerated alveoli. Flooding heterogeneity is unaltered. In pulmonary edema with normal T, early ventilation with accelerated deflation might reduce the positive feedback mechanism through which ventilation injury increases over time.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY We introduce, in the isolated rat lung, a new model of pulmonary edema with elevated surface tension. We first generate hydrostatic edema and then ventilate gently to increase surface tension. We investigate the mechanical mechanisms through which 1) ventilation injures edematous lungs and 2) ventilation with accelerated deflation might lessen ventilation injury.
- cardiogenic pulmonary edema
- acute respiratory distress syndrome
- ventilation injury
- surface tension
- alveolar mechanics
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