Flow Index: a novel, non-invasive, continuous, quantitative method to evaluate patient inspiratory effort during pressure support ventilation

Filippo Albani, Luigi Pisani, Gianni Ciabatti, Federica Fusina, Barbara Buizza, Anna Granato, Valeria Lippolis, Eros Aniballi, Francesco Murgolo, Antonio Rosano, Nicola Latronico, Massimo Antonelli, Salvatore Grasso, Giuseppe Natalini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The evaluation of patient effort is pivotal during pressure support ventilation, but a non-invasive, continuous, quantitative method to assess patient inspiratory effort is still lacking. We hypothesized that the concavity of the inspiratory flow-time waveform could be useful to estimate patient's inspiratory effort. The purpose of this study was to assess whether the shape of the inspiratory flow, as quantified by a numeric indicator, could be associated with inspiratory effort during pressure support ventilation.

METHODS: Twenty-four patients in pressure support ventilation were enrolled. A mathematical relationship describing the decay pattern of the inspiratory flow profile was developed. The parameter hypothesized to estimate effort was named Flow Index. Esophageal pressure, airway pressure, airflow, and volume waveforms were recorded at three support levels (maximum, minimum and baseline). The association between Flow Index and reference measures of patient effort (pressure time product and pressure generated by respiratory muscles) was evaluated using linear mixed effects models adjusted for tidal volume, respiratory rate and respiratory rate/tidal volume.

RESULTS: Flow Index was different at the three pressure support levels and all group comparisons were statistically significant. In all tested models, Flow Index was independently associated with patient effort (p < 0.001). Flow Index prediction of inspiratory effort agreed with esophageal pressure-based methods.

CONCLUSIONS: Flow Index is associated with patient inspiratory effort during pressure support ventilation, and may provide potentially useful information for setting inspiratory support and monitoring patient-ventilator interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196
JournalCritical care (London, England)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021

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