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BackgroundThe evaluation of patient effort is pivotal during pressure support ventilation, but a non-invasive, continuous, quantitative method to assess patient inspiratory effort is still lacking. We hypothesized that the concavity of the inspiratory flow-time waveform could be useful to estimate patient's inspiratory effort. The purpose of this study was to assess whether the shape of the inspiratory flow, as quantified by a numeric indicator, could be associated with inspiratory effort during pressure support ventilation.MethodsTwenty-four patients in pressure support ventilation were enrolled. A mathematical relationship describing the decay pattern of the inspiratory flow profile was developed. The parameter hypothesized to estimate effort was named Flow Index. Esophageal pressure, airway pressure, airflow, and volume waveforms were recorded at three support levels (maximum, minimum and baseline). The association between Flow Index and reference measures of patient effort (pressure time product and pressure generated by respiratory muscles) was evaluated using linear mixed effects models adjusted for tidal volume, respiratory rate and respiratory rate/tidal volume.ResultsFlow Index was different at the three pressure support levels and all group comparisons were statistically significant. In all tested models, Flow Index was independently associated with patient effort (p ConclusionsFlow Index is associated with patient inspiratory effort during pressure support ventilation, and may provide potentially useful information for setting inspiratory support and monitoring patient-ventilator interactions.

Original publication





Critical care (London, England)

Publication Date





Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Fondazione Poliambulanza, Brescia, Italy.


Humans, Inspiratory Capacity, Respiration, Artificial, Respiratory Mechanics, Weights and Measures, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Intensive Care Units, Female, Male