High frequency positive pressure ventilation has been suggested to result in a lower incidence of respiratory complications in preterm infants with idiopathic respiratory distress syndrome compared with ventilation at conventional rates. A possible disadvantage is compromise of the infant's cardiovascular condition secondary to inadvertent positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP). In a group of 20 such infants treated with high frequency positive pressure ventilation (rates of up to 100/minute) and analysed, changes in arterial blood pressure and cerebral blood flow velocity were largely influenced by changes in arterial blood gases, and no effect could be attributed to inadvertent PEEP. In addition, the observed fall in both arterial carbon dioxide and oxygen tensions could be readily predicted for theoretical reasons. Under certain conditions at the fastest rates used, cerebral blood flow velocity was significantly influenced by changes in blood pressure, which may indicate impaired cerebrovascular regulation. Though other factors (such as the severity of the infants' illness or the use of paralysis) may have been responsible for this apparent blood pressure passivity, the role of high frequency positive pressure ventilation in such infants warrants further study.
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