Distribution of ventilation in American alligator Alligator mississippiensis

Am J Physiol. 1985 Oct;249(4 Pt 2):R477-81. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1985.249.4.R477.


The regional distribution of ventilation in the multicameral lung of spontaneously ventilating alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) was studied with 133Xe scintigraphy. Frequent gamma camera images of 133Xe washin and washout were obtained and processed to allow evaluation of regional ventilation. Washin of 133Xe to equilibrium occurred in three to four breaths in anterior, central, and posterior compartments. Washin was most rapid in the posterior compartment and slowest in the anterior. The structure of the lungs and distribution of ventilation of inspired gas is consistent with the rapid radial spread of gas through a parallel arrangement of lung units surrounding the central intrapulmonary bronchus. Washout to equilibrium of 133Xe from all compartments occurred within three to four breaths. This rapid washin and washout of gas to all parts of the lung stands in contrast to the lungs of turtles and snakes, in which the caudal air sacs are relatively poorly ventilated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alligators and Crocodiles / anatomy & histology
  • Alligators and Crocodiles / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiology
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reptiles / physiology*
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio
  • Xenon Radioisotopes


  • Xenon Radioisotopes