Gravity and the Lung: Lessons from Space

  • J. B. West
Part of the Developments in Critical Care Medicine and Anesthesiology book series (DCCA, volume 25)


The normal lung is exquisitely sensitive to gravity, which causes regional differences in blood flow, ventilation, gas exchange, alveolar size, intrapleural pressure, and mechanical stress (1). These topographical differences of structure and function have many implications in the way in which disease processes develop. Recent work on pulmonary function in the absence of gravity, including measurements in Spacelab SLS-1 in June 1991, have clarified the effects of gravity on the lung.


Topographical Difference Intrapleural Pressure Nitrogen Washout Alveolar Size Alveolar Plateau 
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  1. 1.
    West J.B.: Regional Differenees in the Lung. New York, Academic Press, 1977Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Michels D.B., West J.B.: Distribution of pulmonary ventilation and perfusion during short periods of weightlessness. J Appl Physiol 45: 987–8,1978PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Michaels D.B., Friedman P.J., West J.B.: Radiographie eomparison of human lung shape during normal gravity and weightlessness. J Appl Physiol 47: 851–7, 1979Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

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  • J. B. West

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