Pulmonary gas exchange reserve in the form of recruitable capillaries was first described in the 1930s, when in vivo microscopy was used to demonstrate that not all capillaries were perfused during basal conditions and that perfusion of individual capillaries varied over time. These important observations have never been directly confirmed, nor have the hemodynamic causes of the variation been investigated. We used videomicroscopy to record nine consecutive pulmonary capillary perfusion patterns during a 40-min period. Confirming the original work, we found considerable perfusion variation in about one-half of the capillaries. These variations did not correlate with changes in pulmonary arterial pressures or cardiac outputs, suggesting that factors more subtle than large-vessel hemodynamics affected capillary perfusion consistency. In contrast to this variable group, one- half of the capillary segments were consistently perfused during at least eight of the nine observations and were interconnected to form preferential pathways across the alveolar wall.
- capillary recruitment
- pulmonary capillaries
- stability of capillary perfusion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation