Key messages

• The term compliance can be quantified as the slope of the volume-pressure curve (volume change per unit change in pressure).

• If volume is delivered during inspiration by a constant (square-wave) flow, a tracing of pressure against time can be used to measure compliance.

• Resistance to gas flow occurs as a result of frictional forces within the airway and is measured in terms of a pressure drop per unit flow rate.

• Airways resistance can be estimated simply from the pressure-time curves obtained from the ventilated patient. The pressure difference related to resistance is often calculated at the end of inspiration during an end-inspiratory pause.

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