Abdominal muscle use during breathing in the anesthetized dog

Respir Physiol. 1987 Nov;70(2):159-71. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(87)90047-8.


The electromyograms of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, and transversus abdominis muscles were recorded in eight lightly anesthetized, spontaneously breathing dogs. During quiet breathing in the supine posture seven animals invariably had a phasic expiratory activity in the transversus, whereas only two animals had invariable expiratory activity in the external oblique. An intermittent expiratory activity in the rectus was recorded in only one animal. The degree of activation, expressed as a percentage of the activity detected during breathing with 25 cm H2O positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), was also significantly greater (P less than 0.05) for the transversus (mean +/- SEM: 29.4 +/- 8.6%) than the external oblique (5.5 +/- 2.3%). Head up tilting and progressive hypercapnia elicited substantial increases in transversus and external oblique expiratory activity in all animals, whereas head down tilting caused marked decreases in expiratory activity. In each posture and at any given end-tidal CO2, however, the amount of transversus activity was larger than the amount of external oblique activity. The rectus was usually silent in all the conditions. Bilateral cervical vagotomy suppressed external oblique activity in most supine animals, and the muscle was no longer recruited by PEEP, head up tilting, or hypercapnia. In contrast, there was residual transversus expiratory activity in all supine animals (11.1 +/- 3.1%), as well as some expiratory recruitment during PEEP, head up tilting, and hypercapnia. These results indicate that: (1) the transversus is the primary abdominal muscle of expiration in the anesthetized dog; and (2) its behavior resembles that of the triangularis sterni, although it is more dependent on vagal afferent pathways. The present findings also strengthen the important fact that spontaneous quiet expiration in the dog is an active rather than passive process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / innervation
  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Electromyography
  • Hypercapnia
  • Posture
  • Respiration*
  • Vagotomy
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*