Developmental respiratory physiology

Daniel Trachsel, Thomas O. Erb, Jürg Hammer, Britta S. von Ungern-Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Various developmental aspects of respiratory physiology put infants and young children at an increased risk of respiratory failure, which is associated with a higher rate of critical incidents during anesthesia. The immaturity of control of breathing in infants is reflected by prolonged central apneas and periodic breathing, and an increased risk of apneas after anesthesia. The physiology of the pediatric upper and lower airways is characterized by a higher flow resistance and airway collapsibility. The increased chest wall compliance and reduced gas exchange surface of the lungs reduce the pulmonary oxygen reserve vis-à-vis a higher metabolic oxygen demand, which causes more rapid oxygen desaturation when ventilation is compromised. This review describes the various developmental aspects of respiratory physiology and summarizes anesthetic implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
JournalPaediatric Anaesthesia
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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