Pulmonary capillary perfusion: Intra-alveolar fractal patterns and interalveolar independence

Wiltz W. Wagner, Thomas M. Todoran, Nobuhiro Tanabe, Teresa M. Wagner, Judith A. Tanner, Robb W. Glenny, Robert G. Presson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Pulmonary capillary perfusion was analyzed from videomicroscopic recordings to determine flow switching characteristics among capillary segments in isolated, blood-perfused canine lungs. Within each alveolus, the rapid switching pattern was repetitive and was, therefore, nonrandom (fractal dimensions near 1.0). This self-similarity over time was unexpected in a network widely considered to be passive. Among adjacent alveoli, the relationship among the switching patterns was even more surprising, for there was virtually no relationship between the perfusion patterns (coefficients of determination approaching zero). These findings demonstrated that the perfusion patterns in individual alveolar walls were independent of their next-door neighbors. The lack of dependence among neighboring networks suggests an interesting characteristic: the failure of one alveolar-capillary bed would leave its neighbors relatively unaffected, a feature of a robust design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-831
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999


  • Dogs
  • Pulmonary microcirculation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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