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Pulmonary gas pressures

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Title: Pulmonary gas pressures  
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Subject: Alveolar gas equation, Comprehensive metabolic panel, Basic metabolic panel, Respiratory physiology, Apneustic center
Collection: Respiratory Physiology
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Pulmonary gas pressures

The factors that determine the values for alveolar pO2 and pCO2 are:

  • The pressure of outside air
  • The partial pressures of inspired oxygen and carbon dioxide
  • The rates of total body oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production
  • The rates of alveolar ventilation and perfusion

Following is a list of average partial pressures (in torr) for a human at rest:

Contents

  • Partial pressure of oxygen 1
  • Partial pressure of carbon dioxide 2
  • Pathology 3
  • See also 4

Partial pressure of oxygen

Location pO2
(mmHg)
Ambient air 160 (PAO2)
Arterial blood 80-100 (PaO2)
Venous blood 40-50
Lung Capillaries 20-40

The alveolar oxygen partial pressure is lower than the atmospheric O2 partial pressure for two reasons.

  • Firstly, as the air enters the lungs, it is humidified by the upper airway and thus the partial pressure of water vapour (47 mmHg) reduces the oxygen partial pressure to about 150 mmHg.
  • The rest of the difference is due to the continual uptake of oxygen by the pulmonary capillaries, and the continual diffusion of CO2 out of the capillaries into the alveoli.

The alveolar pO2 is not routinely measured but is calculated from blood gas measurements by the Alveolar gas equation.

Partial pressure of carbon dioxide

Location pCO2
(Torr)
Outside air - dry air at sea level 0.3
Alveolar air 35
Arteriole blood 40
Venous blood 50
Cells 50

The pCO2, along with the pH, can be used to distinguish among metabolic acidosis, metabolic alkalosis, respiratory acidosis, and respiratory alkalosis.

Pathology

Hypoventilation exists when the ratio of carbon dioxide production to alveolar ventilation increases above normal values.

Hyperventilation exists when the same ratio decreases.

See also


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