Temporal dynamics of lung aeration determined by dynamic CT in a porcine model of ARDS

Br J Anaesth. 2001 Sep;87(3):459-68. doi: 10.1093/bja/87.3.459.


We used dynamic CT to identify two different time constants of lung aeration and their individual contribution to the total increase in cross-sectional lung area in healthy and experimentally damaged lungs. In five healthy pigs, inflation and deflation between 0 and 50 cm H2O was imposed during dynamic (250 ms/image) CT acquisition, and repeated after experimental lung injury by saline lavage. The fractional areas of density ranges, which represent aerated lung parenchyma, were determined planimetrically, and their time for expansion during the manoeuvre was fitted using a bi-exponential model. Thus, two compartments, their sizes, i.e. their relative contributions to lung area aerated by the manoeuvre, and their specific time constants (tau) were sought. Healthy lungs were characterized best by a one-compartmental behaviour with one tau only, both during inflation (median tau=0.5 s; range 0.4-0.6 s) and deflation (1.2 s; 1.1-1.3 s). In damaged lungs two compartments were found both during inspiration and expiration, with 86% (78-87%) of the recruitable lung area following a short tau of 0.5 s (0.5-0.6), and 14% (13-22%) following a longer tau of 9.1 s (8-16.8 s) during inflation. During expiration, damaged lungs had a short tau of 0.8 s (0.5-1.0 s) for 94% (84-100%) of deflated lung area, and a longer tau of 26.5 s (7.1-34.3 s) for 6% (0-16%). We conclude that dynamic CT indicates the relative size and temporal behaviour of functional compartments in normal and abnormal lungs. Our findings suggest that after lung damage, cyclic ventilation with inspiratory periods of <10 s duration will not achieve maximum recruitment for a chosen inspiratory pressure. In ARDS, the short expiratory tau predisposes to atelectasis formation if expiratory times are >1 s.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Respiration
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnostic imaging*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / etiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Swine
  • Therapeutic Irrigation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*