Airway closure and pregnancy

Anaesthesia. 1977 Jun;32(6):517-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.1977.tb09998.x.


During pregnancy there is a fall in functional residual capacity and expiratory reserve volume. The point of airway closure in relation to vital capacity and the expiratory reserve volume was determined in 11 post-partum patients who had previously been studied during pregnancy. The lung volume at which airway closure occurred in pregnancy and the post-partum period did not change in relation to the vital capacity whereas the expiratory reserve volume did, so that airway closure became imminent in the pregnant women during tidal ventilation, especially whilst in the suping position. The significance of this alteration in pulmonary function to obstetric anaesthesia is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Expiratory Reserve Volume
  • Female
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Humans
  • Posture
  • Pregnancy*
  • Respiration*
  • Vital Capacity