Bronchiolitis in infancy is characterized by the rapid development of respiratory distress caused by obstructive lesions at the bronchiolar level which lead to acute pulmonary over-distention. When severe respiratory distress continues unabated by therapy, these infants appear to become exhausted. Exhaustion has been implicated as a factor contributing to the demise of such infants. It is important to determine to what extent this is true. The role of mechanical devices capable of aiding respiration has remained uncertain partly because this rather complex question has not been answered as yet.
As part of a study on the mechanics of respiration in bronchiolitis, we have calculated the work of respiration in this disease and compared it with that performed by a group of infants with bronchopneumonia. Bronchopneumonia was selected because respiratory distress occurs without the apparent development of exhaustion. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether the actual work performed