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J Physiol. 1999 Jul 1;518(Pt 1):291-300.

Spatial distribution of external and internal intercostal activity in dogs.

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Laboratory of Cardiorespiratory Physiology, Brussels School of Medicine, and Chest Service, Erasme University Hospital, 1070 Brussels, Belgium.


1. The observation that the external and internal interosseous intercostal muscles in the dog show marked regional differences in mechanical advantage has prompted us to re-examine the topographic distribution of electrical activity among these muscles during spontaneous breathing. 2. Inspiratory activity was recorded only from the areas of the external intercostals with an inspiratory mechanical advantage, and expiratory activity was recorded only from the areas of the internal intercostals with an expiratory mechanical advantage. The expiratory discharges previously recorded from the caudal external intercostals and the inspiratory discharges recorded from the rostral internal intercostals were probably due to cross-contamination. 3. Activity in each muscle area was also quantified relative to the activity measured during tetanic, supramaximal nerve stimulation (maximal activity). External intercostal inspiratory activity was consistently greater in the areas with a greater inspiratory advantage (i.e. the dorsal aspect of the rostral segments) than in the areas with a smaller inspiratory advantage, and internal intercostal expiratory activity was invariably greatest in the areas with the greatest expiratory advantage (i.e. the dorsal aspect of the caudal segments). 4. This topographic distribution of neural drive confers to the external intercostal muscles an inspiratory action on the lung during breathing and to the internal interosseous intercostals an expiratory action.

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