Although positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) is believed to depress cardiac output and arterial pressure by compressing the vena cava and the heart, it is unclear whether PEEP also depresses these variables by a reflex arising from an inflation-induced stimulation of pulmonary C-fibers. We therefore recorded the impulse activity of 17 pulmonary C-fibers in barbiturate-anesthetized dogs with closed chests, while we placed the expiratory outlet of a ventilator under 5-30 cmH2O. Increasing PEEP in a ramp-like manner stimulated 12 of the 17 pulmonary C-fibers, with activity increasing from 0.0 ± 0.1 to 0.9 ± 0.2 imp/s when end-expiratory pressure equaled 15 cmH2O. When PEEP was increased in a stepwise manner to 15-20 cmH2O and maintained at this pressure for 15 min, pulmonary C-fibers increased their firing rates, but the effect was small averaging 0.2-0.3 imp/s after the 1st min of this maneuver. We conclude that pulmonary C-fibers are unlikely to be responsible for causing much of the decreases in cardiac output and arterial pressure evoked by sustained periods of PEEP in both patients and laboratory animals. These C-fibers, however, are likely to be responsible for causing the reflex decreases in these variables evoked by sudden application of PEEP.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)