Reducing Atelectasis during General Anaesthesia – the Importance of Oxygen Concentration, End-Expiratory Pressure and Patient Factors : A Clinical Study Exploring the Prevention of Atelectasis in Adults

Abstract: Background: The use of pure oxygen during preoxygenation and induction of general anaesthesia is a major cause of atelectasis. The interaction between reduced lung volume, resulting in airway closure, and varying inspiratory fractions of oxygen (FIO2) in determining the risk of developing atelectasis is still obscure.Methods: In this thesis, computed tomography (in studies I and II during anaesthesia, in studies III and IV postoperatively) was used to investigate the area of atelectasis in relation to FIO2 and varying levels of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP).Study I investigated the short-term influence of reducing FIO2 during preoxygenation and induction of general anaesthesia, and the time to hypoxia during apnoea.Study II focused on the long-term effect of an FIO2 of 0.8 for preoxygenation.Study III applied CPAP/PEEP with an FIO2 of 1.0 or 0.8 for pre- and postoxygenation until extubation. After extubation, CPAP with an FIO2 of 0.3 was applied before the end of mask ventilation.Study IV compared two groups given CPAP/PEEP during anaesthesia and an FIO2 of 1.0 or 0.3 during postoxygenation, but without CPAP after extubation.Results: Study I showed a reduction in atelectasis with an FIO2 of 0.8 or 0.6, compared with 1.0, but the time to hypoxia decreased. In study II, atelectasis evolved gradually after preoxygenation. In study III, atelectasis was reduced with an FIO2 of 1.0 and CPAP/PEEP compared with an FIO2 of 1.0 without CPAP/PEEP. The intervention failed in the group given an FIO2 of 0.8, this group had more smokers. Atelectasis and age were correlated. In study IV, no difference was found between the groups. Post hoc analysis showed that smoking and ASA class increased the risk for atelectasis.Conclusion, the effect of reducing FIO2 during preoxygenation to prevent atelectasis might be short-lived. A lower FIO2 shortened the time to the appearance of hypoxia. Increasing lung volume by using CPAP/PEEP also decreased the risk of atelectasis, but the method might fail; for example in patients who are heavy smokers. In older patients care must be taken to reduce a high FIO2 before ending CPAP.