Continuous positive airway pressure: A breathing system to minimize respiratory work

D. R. Hillman, K. E. Finucane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


During continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) the work of breathing is least when there is no change of airway pressure measured at the mouth (ΔPaw) during respiration. In this study we consider the physical properties of CPAP circuits which determine the magnitude of ΔPaw, and apply this information to the design of simple, reliable CPAP system that minimizes ΔPaw and incorporates the additional advantages of low-flow rates and the use of commonly available proven components. Using a weighted reservoir bag and threshold CPAP valve to maintain pressure, we found that ΔPaw may be reduced to less than 1.0 cm H2O during quiet breathing, at a tidal volume of 700 ml and maximum inspiratory flow of 1.35 L/sec. ΔPaw was dependent on both the resistance and the reactance of the circuit components; it was increased when resistance or flow rates were high, and when delivery pressure depended on the elastic tension in the wall of the reservoir bag or on compression of the bag with springs or elastic bands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1985
Externally publishedYes


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