Which flow patterns are commonly used in mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure?

Updated: Apr 07, 2020
  • Author: Ata Murat Kaynar, MD; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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Answer

Two flow patterns are used commonly: (1) a constant-flow (ie, square-wave) pattern (see the image below) and (2) a decelerating-flow pattern. With a constant-flow pattern, inspiratory flow is held constant throughout the breath, whereas with a decelerating-flow pattern, flow rises quickly to a maximal value and then decreases progressively throughout the breath.

Wave forms of a volume-targeted ventilator: Pressu Wave forms of a volume-targeted ventilator: Pressure, flow, and volume waveforms are shown with square-wave flow pattern. A is baseline, B is increase in tidal volume, C is reduced lung compliance, and D is increase in flow rate. All 3 settings lead to increase in peak airway pressures. Adapted from Spearman CB et al.

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