Journal of Applied Physiology

Relationships between abdominal and diaphragmatic volume displacements

H. Knight, W. M. Petroll, D. F. Rochester


We investigated the relationship between the volumes displaced by the diaphragm and the abdominal wall during spontaneous breathing in supine anesthetized dogs. Diaphragmatic volume displacement (Vdi) was calculated from measurements taken from anteroposterior fluoroscopic images employing a previously described geometric model. The volume displacement of the abdominal wall (Vabd) was measured with a calibrated Respitrace. Shortening of single diaphragm muscle bundles in costal and crural regions was measured as the distance between radiopaque beads sutured to the peritoneal surface of the muscle. We found that Vdi always exceeded Vabd, but Vabd/Vdi was larger in animals in which the abdominal wall was more compliant. In this preparation, Vdi is better correlated with costal than with crural shortening. Vabd did not correlate with either costal or crural shortening. We infer that the difference between Vdi and Vabd reflects the volume displacement of the lower rib cage caused by diaphragm contraction. This volume difference was tightly correlated with costal shortening. We conclude from these data that coupling between Vdi and Vabd is influenced by the relative compliances of the chest wall and abdomen. Shortening of regions of the diaphragm may have variable relationships to the measured volume displacement, but costal shortening is intimately related to expansion of the lower rib cage.