A pilot study of an in-vitro bovine trachea model of the effect of continuous positive airway pressure breathing on airway surface liquid
White, DE; Nates, RJ; Bartley, J
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Background: Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) users frequently report troublesome symptoms of airway dryness and nasal congestion. Clinical investigations have demonstrated that supplementary humidification reduces these symptoms but the reason for their occurrence remains unexplained. Investigations using human computational air-conditioning models are unable to reproduce or quantify the apparent airway drying experienced during CPAP therapy. The purpose of this study was to determine whether augmented air pressures change overall mucosal airway surface liquid (ASL) water supply and, if so, the extent of this effect. Method: In an original in vitro experimental set up, maximal ASL supply was determined in whole bovine trachea when exposed to simulated tidal breathing stresses over a range or air pressures. Results: At ambient pressure, the maximal supply of ASL was found to compare well to previously published data (31.2l/cm2.hr). CPAP pressures from 5 cm H2O above ambient were found to reduce ASL supply by 22%. Statistical analysis (n=8) showed a significant difference existed between the ambient and CPAP results (p < 0.0001), and that there was no significant variation between all pressurized results (p = 0.716). Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary data that ASL supply is reduced by CPAP therapy which may explain the airway drying symptoms associated with this therapy.