Abdominal muscle use during breathing in unanesthetized dogs

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989 Jan;66(1):20-7. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1989.66.1.20.


The pattern of abdominal muscle use during breathing in unanesthetized dogs is unknown. Therefore, we have recorded the electromyograms of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, and transversus abdominis in eight conscious animals breathing quietly in the sitting, standing, and prone postures. During quiet breathing in the sitting posture, all animals invariably had a large amount of phasic expiratory activity in the transversus abdominis. In contrast, only four animals showed some expiratory activity in the external oblique, and only one animal had expiratory activity in the rectus abdominis. A similar pattern was observed when the animals were standing or lying prone, although the amount of expiratory activity was less in this posture. Bilateral cervical vagotomy in four animals did not affect the degree of transversus abdominis expiratory activation or the influence of posture. We conclude that in conscious dogs 1) the abdominal muscles play an important role during breathing and make spontaneous quiet expiration a very active process, 2) the transversus abdominis is the primary respiratory muscle of the abdomen, and 3) unlike in anesthetized animals, extrapulmonary receptors play a major role in promoting abdominal expiratory contraction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Anesthesia
  • Animals
  • Consciousness
  • Differential Threshold
  • Dogs
  • Electromyography
  • Neck
  • Posture
  • Respiration*
  • Vagotomy
  • Work of Breathing