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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 1981 Jun;25(3):297-302.

Distribution of inspired gas to each lung in anesthetized human subjects.


The distribution of ventilation in man during halothane anesthesia was studied in a two-compartment lung model in which each lung was ventilated separately by means of a double-lumen tracheal tube. Eight subjects were studied prior to scheduled surgery. Tidal volume distribution was even between the lungs in the supine position (horizontal distribution) as was distribution of dynamic lung compliance, resistance and dead space. The vertical distribution was assessed when the patient was in the left lateral position. Dependent dynamic lung compliance and dead space were lower and lung resistance was higher than in the non-dependent lung. These factors favoured a non-dependent lung ventilation and, moreover, caused a re-distribution from dependent to non-dependent lung during an end-inspiratory pause (EIP), thus increasing the inhomogeneity of ventilation. The application of a positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) of 10 cmH2O improved dependent ventilation and abolished redistribution between the lungs. In conclusion, uneven distribution of dynamic lung compliance and lung resistance causes inhomogeneous ventilation distribution, favouring the non-dependent lung. An EIP enhances and a PEEP reduces the inhomogeneity of ventilation.

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