Walther, S. M., K. B. Domino, R. W. Glenny and M. P. Hlastala. Pulmonary blood flow distribution in sheep: Effects of anesthesia, mechanical ventilation, and change in posture. Anesthesiology. 87:335-342, 1997.

Background: Recent studies providing high-resolution images of pulmonary perfusion have questioned the classical zone model of pulmonary perfusion. Hence the present work was undertaken to provide detailed maps of regional pulmonary perfusion to examine the influence of anesthesia, mechanical ventilation, and posture, Methods: Pulmonary perfusion was analyzed with intravenous fluorescent microspheres (15 mu m) in six sheep studied in four conditions: prone and awake, prone with pentobarbital-anesthesia and breathing spontaneously, prone with anesthesia and mechanical ventilation, and supine with anesthesia and mechanical ventilation. Lungs were air dried at total lung capacity and sectioned into approximately 1,100 pieces (about 2 cm(3)) per animal, The pieces were weighed and assigned spatial coordinates. Fluorescence was read on a spectrophotometer, and signals were corrected for piece weight and normalized to mean flow. Pulmonary blood flow heterogeneity was assessed using the coefficient of variation of flow data. Results: Pentobarbital anesthesia and mechanical ventilation did not influence perfusion heterogeneity, but heterogeneity increased when the animals were in the supine posture (P < 0.01), Gravitational flow gradients were absent in the prone position but present in the supine (P < 0.001 compared with zero). Pulmonary perfusion was distributed with a hilar-to-peripheral gradient in animals breathing spontaneously (P < 0.05). Conclusions: The influence of pentobarbital anesthesia and mechanical ventilation on pulmonary perfusion heterogeneity is small compared with the effect of changes in posture, Analysis of flow gradients indicate that gravity plays a small role in determining pulmonary blood flow distribution.