Statics of the respiratory system

  • E. D’Angelo
Part of the Topics in Anaesthesia and Critical Care book series (TIACC)


The statics of the respiratory system and its component parts are studied by determining and analyzing the corresponding volume-pressure relationships. These relationships are usually represented as single lines, implying that: a) static pressures depend on volume alone; and b) pressure across any respiratory structure can be dealt with as a single value. Neither of these assumptions is, however, correct. In fact, static pressures differ depending on the volume and time history of the respiratory system. For example, static curves obtained as volume is changed in progressive steps from residual volume to total lung capacity and back again are loops, called “hysteresis loops”. Static or quasi-static (i.e. long-term) elastic hysteresis is a common phenomenon exhibited by the various tissues of the body [1]. In the respiratory system it is attributed to both viscoelasticity, such as stress adaptation, i.e. a rate-dependent phenomenon, and plasticity, i.e. a rate-independent phenomenon. This relates partly to the definition chosen to qualify static conditions, and partly to the technical difficulties encountered in order to satisfy that definition, particularly in in vivo studies. Indeed only plasticity should be held responsible for hysteresis which, in a mechanical analogue, would occur only in the presence of dry friction. There is no information concerning pressure related to tissue plasticity in humans; however, it has been suggested that this pressure component should be very small in the tidal volume range [2].


Respiratory System Lung Volume Lower Body Negative Pressure Erect Posture Muscular Paralysis 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano 1999

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  • E. D’Angelo

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