Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 526–529 | Cite as

Pulmonary vascular resistance

A meaningless variable?
  • Robert Naeije
Physiological Note


Almost 20 years ago, Adriaan Versprille published an editorial in this journal to explain why, in his opinion, the calculation of pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) is meaningless [1]. The uncertainties of PVR were underscored a year later by McGregor and Sniderman in the American Journal of Cardiology [2]. Obviously, both papers failed to convince. A Medline search from 1985 to the end of 2002 reveals no less than 7,158 papers with PVR calculations. What is it that could be wrong in all this literature?

What is a resistance calculation?

A resistance calculation derives from a physical law first developed by the French physiologist Poiseuille in the early nineteenth century. Poiseuille invented the U-tube mercury manometer. He used the device to show that blood pressure does not decrease from large to small arteries to the then existing limit of cannula size of about 2 mm, and rightly concluded that the site of systemic vascular resistance could only be at smaller-sized...


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyFaculty of Medicine of the Free University of Brussels, Erasme CampusBrusselsBelgium

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