Collateral ventilation and gas exchange in emphysema

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1994 Sep;150(3):635-41. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.150.3.8087331.


Resistance to collateral flow of gas is high in the normal human lung but may be lower in emphysema. However, the contribution of collateral ventilation to gas exchange in emphysema remains unclear. This study evaluates the role and magnitude of collateral ventilation between bronchopulmonary segments in six patients with clinical, functional, and computed tomographic evidence of emphysema, compared with our previous findings in 12 normal subjects. To assess collateral flow, a balloon-tipped catheter with a lumen that opened distal to the balloon was inflated in segmental bronchi during fiberoptic bronchoscopy. Respiratory gas tensions were sampled by mass spectrometer from beyond the occlusion via the catheter lumen. Subjects breathed air until occlusion was established and then switched to 79% helium/21% oxygen. The rate of rise of helium concentration was measured within occluded segments and used as an index of collateral ventilation. The mean (+/- SEM) rate of rise of helium concentration was ten times greater in emphysema patients (9.5 +/- 2.7%/min) compared with normal subjects (0.8 +/- 0.3%/min) (p = 0.009). The mean PO2 within occluded segments was similar in normal subjects and emphysema patients: 45.4 +/- 1.8 mm Hg and 44.8 +/- 3.6 mm Hg, respectively. Mean PCO2 within occluded segments was lower in patients (40.1 +/- 1.9 mm Hg) than in normal subjects (46.4 +/- 1.3 mm Hg), probably due to higher regional ventilation-perfusion ratios in emphysema patients rather than collateral ventilation. In emphysema patients there was a positive correlation between rate of rise of helium concentration and final PO2 within an occluded segment (r = 0.73; p = 0.02).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Airway Resistance / physiology
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Female
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Helium / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Respiration / physiology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data


  • Helium