Changes in PCO2 and PO2 during expiration have been ascribed to simultaneous gas exchange, but other factors such as ventilation-perfusion inhomogeneity in combination with sequential emptying may also contribute. An experimental and model approach was used to study the relationship between gas exchange and changes in expired PCO2 and PO2 in anesthetized dogs during prolonged high tidal volume expirations. Changes in PCO2 and PO2 were quantified by taking the area bounded by the sloping exhalation curve and a line drawn horizontally from a point where the Fowler dead space plus 250 ml had been expired. This procedure is similar to using the slope of the exhalation curve but it circumvents problems caused by nonlinearity of the PCO2 and PO2 curves. The gas exchange components of the CO2 and O2 areas were calculated using a single-alveolus lung model whose input parameters were measured in connection with each prolonged expiration. The relationship between changes in experimental CO2 areas caused by sudden reductions in mixed venous PCO2 (produced by right atrial infusions of NaOH) and those calculated by the model was also studied. In seven dogs, calculated CO2 and O2 areas were 13% higher and 25% lower than the respective experimental areas, but interindividual variations were large. Changes in experimental CO2 areas caused by step changes in mixed venous PCO2 were almost identical to changes in the calculated areas. We conclude that the changes in PCO2 and PO2 during expiration cannot be explained solely by gas exchange. However, the single-alveolus lung model accurately predicts changes in the CO2 exhalation curve caused by alterations in the alveolar CO2 flow.
- Copyright © 1987 the American Physiological Society