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Acta Otolaryngol. 1998 Jul;118(4):567-73.

Exchange rates of gases across the tympanic membrane in rhesus monkeys.

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Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA, USA.


The exchange rates of CO2 and He across the tympanic membrane were estimated in 5 monkeys. For these experiments, the monkey was anesthetized and one arm of a polyethylene "T" tube was introduced into the external canal of the test ear and sealed to the ambient environment with wax. One arm of the T tube was attached to a pressure transducer and the other to an argon gas source via a valve. Silica tubing sealed within the probe provided periodic gas samples for composition analysis by an online mass spectrometer. Prior to each experiment, the probe was washed with Argon. In 5 experiments the probe was sealed within the external canal of animals with physiological middle ear gas compositions, and in 5 experiments the probe was sealed within the external canal of animals whose middle ears were partially washed with He. The gas in the probe was sampled and analyzed at 10-min intervals for up to 4 h. The results documented a significant increase in the percentage composition of CO2 but not He in the experiments conducted with physiological middle ear gas compositions, and increases in both He and CO2 in the experiments conducted after the middle ear was washed with He. Estimated, average exchange constants for He and CO2 were 0.0005 microl/min/mmHg and 0.0103 microl/min/mmHg, respectively. Using data from previous experiments, the relative trans-mucosal to trans-tympanic membrane gas exchange rates in monkeys are estimated to be in the order of 10:1 for inert gases and 180:1 for chemically active gases.

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