Effect of lung volume on in vivo contraction characteristics of the human diaphragm

  • J. Smith
  • F. Bellemare
Conference paper
Part of the Current Topics in Rehabilitation book series (CURRENT REHAB)


We performed transcutaneous bilateral phrenic nerve stimulation at varying lung volumes between RV and TLC in 6 normal male volunteers. Peak twitch transdiaphragmatic pressure declined from a mean of 49.1 (SD: 9.1) cm H2O at RV to a mean of 19.6 cm H2O (SD: 5.97) at TLC. Twitch contraction time fell from a mean of 91.8 (SD: 11.3) at RV to a mean of 57.7 ms (SD: 7.4) at TLC. There was a good correlation between changes in contraction time and transdiaphragmatic pressure (r = 0.7). The fall in transdiaphragmatic pressure was almost all due to a fall in pleural pressure, with little change in gastric pressure between RV and TLC. At TLC the pleural pressure in response to phrenic nerve stimulation was −0.58 cm H2O. We conclude that as lung volume increases and the diaphragm shortens, it becomes less effective as a pressure. At a lung volume close to TLC the diaphragm ceases to act as an inspiratory muscle.

Key Words

Lung volume contraction characteristics in vivo diaphragm phrenic nerve stimulation transcutaneous bilateral pleural pressure gastric pressure inspiratory muscle. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Smith
    • 1
  • F. Bellemare
    • 1
  1. 1.Meakins-Christie LaboratoriesMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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