Pulmonary perfusion is more uniform in the prone than in the supine position: scintigraphy in healthy humans

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Apr;86(4):1135-41. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1999.86.4.1135.


The main purpose of this study was to find out whether the dominant dorsal lung perfusion while supine changes to a dominant ventral lung perfusion while prone. Regional distribution of pulmonary blood flow was determined in 10 healthy volunteers. The subjects were studied in both prone and supine positions with and without lung distension caused by 10 cmH2O of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Radiolabeled macroaggregates of albumin, rapidly trapped by pulmonary capillaries in proportion to blood flow, were injected intravenously. Tomographic gamma camera examinations (single-photon-emission computed tomography) were performed after injections in the different positions. All data acquisitions were made with the subject in the supine position. CPAP enhanced perfusion differences along the gravitational axis, which was more pronounced in the supine than prone position. Diaphragmatic sections of the lung had a more uniform pulmonary blood flow distribution in the prone than supine position during both normal and CPAP breathing. It was concluded that the dominant dorsal lung perfusion observed when the subjects were supine was not changed into a dominant ventral lung perfusion when the subjects were prone. Lung perfusion was more uniformly distributed in the prone compared with in the supine position, a difference that was more marked during total lung distension (CPAP) than during normal breathing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Capillaries / physiology
  • Diaphragm / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / blood supply
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prone Position / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Circulation / physiology*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics
  • Reference Values
  • Respiration
  • Supine Position / physiology*
  • Technetium Tc 99m Aggregated Albumin / pharmacokinetics
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Aggregated Albumin