Biophysical Reviews

, 3:71 | Cite as

Respiratory system dynamical mechanical properties: modeling in time and frequency domain



The mechanical properties of the respiratory system are important determinants of its function and can be severely compromised in disease. The assessment of respiratory system mechanical properties is thus essential in the management of some disorders as well as in the evaluation of respiratory system adaptations in response to an acute or chronic process. Most often, lungs and chest wall are treated as a linear dynamic system that can be expressed with differential equations, allowing determination of the system’s parameters, which will reflect the mechanical properties. However, different models that encompass nonlinear characteristics and also multicompartments have been used in several approaches and most specifically in mechanically ventilated patients with acute lung injury. Additionally, the input impedance over a range of frequencies can be assessed with a convenient excitation method allowing the identification of the mechanical characteristics of the central and peripheral airways as well as lung periphery impedance. With the evolution of computational power, the airway pressure and flow can be recorded and stored for hours, and hence continuous monitoring of the respiratory system mechanical properties is already available in some mechanical ventilators. This review aims to describe some of the most frequently used models for the assessment of the respiratory system mechanical properties in both time and frequency domain.


Respiratory system impedance Single-compartment model Multicompartment model Constant phase impedance model Lung mechanics modelling 



The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and Carlos Chagas Filho Rio de Janeiro State Research Supporting Foundation (FAPERJ).

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alysson Roncally Carvalho
    • 1
  • Walter Araujo Zin
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Respiration Physiology, Carlos Chagas Filho Institute of BiophysicsFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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