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The purpose of this study was to evaluate algorithms for estimating O2 and CO2 transfer at the pulmonary capillaries by use of a nine-compartment tidally ventilated lung model that incorporated inhomogeneities in ventilation-to-volume and ventilation-to-perfusion ratios. Breath-to-breath O2 and CO2 exchange at the capillary level and at the mouth were simulated by using realistic cyclical breathing patterns to drive the model, derived from 40-min recordings in six resting subjects. The SD of the breath-by-breath gas exchange at the mouth around the value at the pulmonary capillaries was 59.7 +/- 25.5% for O2 and 22.3 +/- 10.4% for CO2. Algorithms including corrections for changes in alveolar volume and for changes in alveolar gas composition improved the estimates of pulmonary exchange, reducing the SD to 20.8 +/- 10.4% for O2 and 15.2 +/- 5.8% for CO2. The remaining imprecision of the estimates arose almost entirely from using end-tidal measurements to estimate the breath-to-breath changes in end-expiratory alveolar gas concentration. The results led us to suggest an alternative method that does not use changes in end-tidal partial pressures as explicit estimates of the changes in alveolar gas concentration. The proposed method yielded significant improvements in estimation for the model data of this study.

Original publication




Journal article


J Appl Physiol (1985)

Publication Date





1963 - 1971


Algorithms, Capillaries, Computer Simulation, Humans, Lung, Models, Biological, Pulmonary Alveoli, Pulmonary Circulation, Pulmonary Gas Exchange, Respiration, Tidal Volume