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Shape and tension distribution of the active canine diaphragm.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Suite 520B, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Both diaphragm shape and tension contribute to transdiaphragmatic pressure, but of the three variables, tension is most difficult to measure. We measured transdiaphragmatic pressure and the global shape of the in vivo canine diaphragm and used principles of mechanics to compute the tension distribution. Our hypotheses were that 1) tension in the active diaphragm is nonuniform with greater tension in the central tendon than in the muscular regions; 2) maximum tension is essentially oriented in the muscle fiber direction, whereas minimum tension is orthogonal to the fiber direction; and 3) during submaximal activation change in the in vivo global shape is small. Metallic markers, each 2 mm in length, were implanted surgically on the peritoneal surface of the diaphragm at 1.5- to 2.0-cm intervals along the muscle bundles at the midline, ventral, middle, and dorsal regions of the left costal diaphragm and along a muscle bundle of the crural diaphragm. Postsurgery, a biplane videofluoroscopic system was used to determine the in vivo three-dimensional coordinates of the markers at end expiration and end inspiration during quiet breathing as well as at end-inspiratory efforts against an occluded airway at lung volumes of functional residual capacity and at one-third maximum inspiratory capacity increments in volume to total lung capacity. A surface was fit to the marker locations using a two-dimensional spline algorithm. Diaphragm surface was modeled as a pressurized membrane, and tension distribution in the active diaphragm was computed using the ANSYS finite element program. We showed that the peak of the diaphragm dome was closer to the ventral surface than to the dorsal surface and that there was a depression or valley in the crural region. In the supine position, during inspiratory efforts, the caudal displacement of the dorsal region of the diaphragm was greater than that of the dome, and the valley along the crural diaphragm was accentuated. In contrast, at lower lung volumes in the prone posture, the caudal displacement of the dome was greater than that of the crural region. At end of inspiration, transdiaphragmatic pressure was approximately 6.5 cmH2O, and tensions were nonuniform in the diaphragm. Maximum principal stress sigma(1) of central tendon was found to be greater than sigma(1) of the costal region, and that was greater than sigma(1) of the crural region, with values of 14-34, 14-29, and 4-14 g/cm, respectively. The corresponding data of the minimum principal stress sigma(2) were 9-18, 3-9, and 0-1.5 g/cm, respectively. Maximum principal tension was approximately parallel to the muscle fibers, whereas minimum tension was essentially orthogonal to the longitudinal direction of the muscle fibers. In the muscular region, sigma(1) was approximately 3-fold sigma(2), whereas in the central tendon, sigma(1) was only approximately 1.5-fold sigma(2.).

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