Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 479–484

Differential lung ventilation with a double-lumen tracheostomy tube in unilateral refractory atelectasis

  • A. Alberti
  • S. Valenti
  • F. Gallo
  • E. Vincenti


Two patients with refractory hypoxemia due to unilateral lung atelectasis were treated with differential lung ventilation (DLV) through a Robertshaw-type, double-lumen tracheostomy tube. DLV was applied using two non-synchronized ventilators and maintained for 6 and 3 days, respectively. Ventilator settings were chosen in accord to the clinical, laboratory and chest X-rays results. Particularly, tidal volume and PEEP were set to avoid excessively high alveolar pressure and to obtain the highest possible value of compliance. We investigated the mechanical properties of the two lungs separately by measuring airway pressure and compliance of each lung before the beginning of DLV and at 0, 5, 24, and 48 h after. Initially we observed in both patients very low values of compliance (7–9 cm H2O/I) and a significant level of PEEPi (12–8 cm H2O) of the diseased lung, whereas PEEPi in the healthy lung was negligible. The clinical improvement was assessed by sequential chest X-rays and by significant improvement of arterial blood gas and PaO2/FiO2 ratios and was associated with a progressive increase of compliance (24–22 cm H2O/I) and by a fall of PEEPi levels (5–4 cm H2O) of the diseased lung. We also observed an improvement of S\(\bar v\)O2, O2AVI, PVRI and\(\dot Q\)va/\(\dot Q\)t values (Case 1). The tracheostomy tube used to apply DLV was very reliable, allowing easy nursing care and selective bronchial aspirations. We conclude that DLV is a very useful technique in unilateral lung pathology, and it can be a life saving procedure in selected patients, by supplying volume and PEEP more efficiently to the affected lung.

Key words

Unilateral lung atelectasis Double lumen tracheostomy tube Differential lung ventilation Monitoring selective respiratory mechanics Compliance Intrinsic PEEP 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Alberti
    • 1
  • S. Valenti
    • 1
  • F. Gallo
    • 1
  • E. Vincenti
    • 2
  1. 1.Servizio di Anestesia e RianimazioneOspedale Civile Dolo (Venezia)DoloItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Anestesia e RianimazioneUniversita' degli Studi di PadovaPadovaItaly

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