Kallas, H. J., K. B. Domino, R. W. Glenny, E. A. Anderson and M. P. Hlastala. Pulmonary blood flow redistribution with low levels of positive end-expiratory pressure. ANESTHESIOLOGY. 88:1291-1299, 1998.

Background: Recent studies have questioned the importance of the gravitational model of pulmonary perfusion. Because low levels of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) are commonly used during anesthesia, the authors studied the distribution of pulmonary blood flow with low levels of PEEP using a high spatial resolution technique. They hypothesized that if hydrostatic factors were important in the distribution of pulmonary blood flow, PEEP would redistribute flow to more dependent lung regions.
Methods: The effects of zero cm H2O PEEP and 5 cm H2O PEEP on pulmonary gas exchange were studied using the multiple inert gas elimination technique; the-distribution of pulmonary blood now, using fluorescent-labeled microspheres, was also investigated in mechanically ventilated, pentobarbital-anesthetized dogs. The lungs were removed, cleared of blood, dried at total lung capacity, and then cubed to obtain approximately 1,000 small pieces of lung (similar to 1,7 cm(3)).
Results: Positive end-expiratory pressure increased the partial pressure of oxygen by 6 +/- 2 mmHg (P < 0.05) and reduced all measures of ventilation and perfusion heterogeneity (P < 0.05). By reducing flow to nondependent ventral lung regions an increasing now to dependent dorsal lung regions, PEEP increased (P < 0.05) the dorsal-to-ventral gradient. Redistribution of blood now with PEEP accounted for 7 +/- 3%, whereas structural factors accounted for 93 +/- 3% of the total variance in blood flow.
Conclusions: The increase in dependent-to-nondependent gradient with PEEP is partially consistent with the gravitationally based lung zone model. However, the results emphasize the greater importance of anatomic factors in determining the distribution of pulmonary blood flow.