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Minute ventilation

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Minute ventilation

Template:Pulmonary function Respiratory minute volume (or minute ventilation or expired minute volume) is the volume of gas inhaled (inhaled minute volume) or exhaled (exhaled minute volume) from a person's lungs per minute. It is an important parameter in respiratory medicine due to its relationship with blood carbon dioxide levels. It can be measured with devices such as a Wright respirometer, or can be calculated from other known respiratory parameters. Note that although its name implies that it is a volume, minute volume is actually a flow (it represents a volume change over time).

Several symbols can be used to represent minute volume. They include: \dot{V}, MV, and VE.

Determination of minute volume

Minute volume can either be measured directly or calculated from other known parameters.

Measurement of minute volume

Minute volume is the amount of gas inhaled or exhaled from a person's lungs in one minute. It can be measured by a Wright respirometer or other device capable of cumulatively measuring gas flow, such as mechanical ventilators.

Calculation of minute volume

If both tidal volume (VT) and respiratory rate (ƒ or RR) are known, minute volume can be calculated by multiplying the two values. One must also take care to consider the effect of dead space on alveolar ventilation, as seen below in "Relationship to other physiological rates".

\dot{V} = V_T \times f

Physiological significance of minute volume

Blood carbon dioxide (PaCO2) levels generally vary inversely with minute volume. For example, a person with increased minute volume (e.g. due to hyperventilation) should demonstrate a lower blood carbon dioxide level. The healthy human body will alter minute volume in an attempt to maintain physiologic homeostasis. A normal minute volume while resting is about 5–8 liters per minute in humans. Minute volume generally decreases when at rest, and increases with exercise. For example, during light activities minute volume may be around 12 litres. Driving a bicycle increases minute ventilation by a factor of 2 to 4 depending on the level of exercise involved. Minute ventilation during moderate exercise may be between 40 and 60 litres per minute.[1] [2]

Hyperventilation is the term for having a minute ventilation higher than physiologically appropriate. Hypoventilation describes a minute volume less than physiologically appropriate.

Relationship to other physiological rates

Minute volume comprises the sum of alveolar ventilation and dead space ventilation. That is:

\dot{V} = \dot{V}_A + \dot{V}_D

where \dot{V}_A is alveolar ventilation, and \dot{V}_D represents dead space ventilation.


External links

  • Overview at
  • Overview at
  • Physiology at MCG 4/4ch3/s4ch3_15
  • What is minute ventilation
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