JOURNAL ARTICLE

Body position, membrane diffusing capacity and pulmonary capillary blood volume in chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema

K C Chou, S C Chang, H I Chang, G M Shiao
Zhonghua Yi Xue za Zhi, Chinese Medical Journal; Free China Ed 1999, 62 (4): 209-16
10367481

BACKGROUND: The effect of body position on diffusing capacity and its components, membrane diffusing capacity (Dm) and pulmonary capillary blood volume (Vc), in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has remained elusive. This study was designed to evaluate the effect of body position on diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLco), Dm and Vc in male patients with chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.

METHODS: Pulmonary function tests including spirometry and lung volume were assessed in the erect position, and DLco, Dm and Vc were measured in the erect and supine positions in a random order in 17 men with chronic bronchitis and 19 men with pulmonary emphysema.

RESULTS: Spirometry results and lung volumes were comparable between both groups of patients; however, significantly lower values of DLco and Kco (DLco corrected by alveolar volume, VA) were observed in the emphysema than in the bronchitis group. In the bronchitis group, Kco and Vc were significantly higher in the supine than in the erect position, but Dm was significantly lower in the supine position. Alternation of body position did not significantly affect DLco and its components in the emphysema group. DLco, Kco and Vc in both the erect and supine positions were significantly higher in the bronchitis than in the emphysema group. Vc-SE (SE, the data in the supine minus those in the erect position) was also significantly higher in the bronchitis group. In the bronchitis group, DLco-SE was significantly correlated with Dm-SE and Vc-SE. However, Kco-SE was highly correlated with Dm-SE. In the emphysema group, DLco-SE and Kco-SE were highly correlated with Vc-SE only.

CONCLUSIONS: An increase in Vc in the supine position may account for the postural effect on Kco in bronchitis patients. In patients with pulmonary emphysema, decreased DLco and an absence of postural effect on DLco and its components may be due to a widespread abnormality of the pulmonary capillary bed. These findings may be of value in elucidating the difference in mechanisms of impaired gas exchange between patients with chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.

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