Location of flow-limiting segments via airway catheters near residual volume in humans

G. C. Smaldone, P. L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Previous studies have demonstrated sites of flow limitation in the central airways of dogs and humans. At low lung volumes, however, during a forced expiration, it is not clear whether flow-limiting segments (FLS) move into the lung periphery. Using intrabronchial lateral pressure catheters, we located FLS in human subjects at all lung volumes between functional residual capacity (FRC) and residual volume (RV). Three individuals with severe intracranial hemorrhage maintained on ventilators were studied. Partial maximal flow-volume curves were generated from 1 liter above FRC to RV by lowering downstream pressure and using the interrupter technique. Sites of FLS were defined as the most downstream points where lateral pressure did not change with driving pressure. FLS were found in all subjects in the central airways. In one subject, FLS moved from segmental bronchi to the first subsegmental bronchus as RV was approached but not beyond. In the other two subjects, FLS remained fixed in location at all measured lung volumes. At constant volume, multiple FLS were located, all in parallel, e.g., fixed in left upper, left lower, and right middle lobar bronchi. In conclusion, sites of flow limitation remain in the central airways as lung volume approaches RV. FLS may move peripherally within the central airways but not beyond proximal subsegmental bronchi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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