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Drug-induced respiratory depression: an integrated model of drug effects on the hypercapnic and hypoxic drive


A. Caruso

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Annual Meeting, Lyon, France

Drug-induced respiratory depression is a common side effect of the agents used in anesthesia practice to provide analgesia and sedation. Depression of the ventilatory drive in the spontaneously breathing patient can lead to severe cardiorespiratory events and it is considered a primary cause of morbidity. Reliable predictions of respiratory inhibition in the clinical setting would therefore provide a valuable means to improve the safety of drug delivery. Although multiple studies investigated the regulation of breathing in man both in the presence and absence of ventilatory depressant drugs, a unified description of respiratory pharmacodynamics is not available. This study proposes a mathematical model of human metabolism and cardiorespiratory regulation integrating several isolated physiological and pharmacological aspects of acute drug-induced ventilatory depression into a single theoretical framework. The description of respiratory regulation has a parsimonious yet comprehensive structure with substantial predictive capability. Simulations relative to the synergistic interaction of the hypercarbic and hypoxic respiratory drive and the global effect of drugs on the control of breathing are in good agreement with published experimental data. Besides providing clinically relevant predictions of respiratory depression, the model can also serve as a test bed to investigate issues of drug tolerability and dose finding/control under nonsteady-state conditions.


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M. Morari

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