Intrapulmonary gas mixing and the sloping alveolar plateau in COPD patients with macroscopic emphysema.

F.A. Wilschut, C.P.M. van der Grinten, R.J.S. Lamers, E.F.M. Wouters, S.C.M. Luijendijk

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Abstract

Dept of Pulmonology, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, especially those with emphysema, show steep slopes of the alveolar plateau (S). This study tested the hypothesis that continued gas exchange between poorly and well-ventilated lung units by means of collateral ventilation would contribute to S in these patients. Nine young volunteers, nine older volunteers and 11 patients with macroscopic emphysema performed wash-out tests with helium (He) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). S was determined for breaths 1-5 (range 1), and for breaths between 95% and 98% of complete wash-out (range 2). An unequal ventilation index (UVI) was defined as the ratio between the estimated mean alveolar pressure and the end tidal pressure (PET) of each tracer gas, calculated over range 2. Over the same range, a phase III ratio was calculated by dividing PET by the estimated pressure at Fowler dead space. In all groups of subjects, the S for He and SF6 were greater for range 2 than for range 1 (p< or =0.012). In the emphysema patients, the correlations between S and UVI were 0.72 for He (p=0.012) and 0.81 for SF6 (p=0.002), while the mean phase III ratios were 1.7 for He and 2.4 for SF6, much less than their theoretical maxima. It was concluded that in patients collateral ventilation may account for only a small part of the increase in the alveolar plateau slope between ranges 1 and 2, and that this increase was mainly caused by unequal ventilation in combination with sequential emptying of lung units. The degree of sequential emptying, however, was modest compared with its full potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-171
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

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