Research: Critical functional lung volumes in neonatal intensive care: evidence and clinical applications

Pediatr Res

. 2023 Jan 9.

 doi: 10.1038/s41390-022-02450-9. Online ahead of print.

Critical functional lung volumes in neonatal intensive care: evidence and clinical applications

Theodore Dassios 1 2

Affiliations expand


Respiratory disease is common in premature and sick newborn infants and can often necessitate the initiation of intensive care. Newborn infants often suffer from conditions that are associated with decreased lung volumes that occur as a result of abnormal or incomplete lung development. Such conditions are prematurity and respiratory distress syndrome, preterm premature rupture of membranes and the ensuing pulmonary hypoplasia and congenital lung anomalies such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia. These diseases have a structural component manifesting with lower lung volumes and a functional component that can present with increased oxygen and ventilatory requirements. The corresponding decreased functional lung volume is possibly responsible for some unfavourable pulmonary outcomes. Some infants are unable to wean off invasive respiratory support and, in extreme cases, unable to sustain independent breathing that can lead to long-term invasive ventilation or subsequent death. The aim of this review is to summarise the available evidence behind the concept of a critical functional lung volume in neonatal intensive care and describe the clinical implications that arise from decreased functional lung volumes in the main high-risk populations of newborn infants. IMPACT: Newborn infants suffer from diseases such as respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary hypoplasia and congenital diaphragmatic hernia that are associated with a decrease in the total lung volume and impaired lung function. Critically decreased functional lung volumes during neonatal care are associated with failure to wean off invasive respiratory support, increased mortality and possibly longer-term respiratory complications.

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