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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 Dec 1;166(11):1461-9. Epub 2002 Sep 11.

Diaphragm length during tidal breathing in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute and University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Diaphragm function is compromised in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by hyperinflation, but its ability to shorten and contribute to tidal volume is uncertain. We estimated coronal diaphragm length by measuring zone of apposition length with ultrasound and rib cage diameters with magnetometers, in 10 male patients with severe COPD and 10 age- and sex-matched control subjects. Diaphragm length was 20% shorter in patients at residual volume (413 and 536 mm in patients and control subjects, respectively) and FRC (381 and 456 mm, respectively), but was not different at total lung capacity (312 and 336 mm, respectively). Zone of apposition length was reduced 50% at residual volume and FRC in patients, but was larger at a given absolute lung volume than in control subjects. There were no differences in tidal volume (0.8 L), tidal changes in zone of apposition length (20 mm) and diaphragm length (38 and 42 mm), and tidal volume displaced by the diaphragm (0.6 L), even though mean FRC in patients was similar to predicted total lung capacity. Although the diaphragm is shorter at FRC in patients with COPD, its motion and change in length during tidal breathing is similar to that in control subjects.

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