According to the "three-compartment" model of ventilation-perfusion ((Equation is included in full-text article.)) inequality, increased (Equation is included in full-text article.)scatter in the lung under general anesthesia is reflected in increased alveolar deadspace fraction (VDA/VA) customarily measured using end-tidal to arterial (A-a) partial pressure gradients for carbon dioxide. A-a gradients for anesthetic agents such as isoflurane are also significant but have been shown to be inconsistent with those for carbon dioxide under the three-compartment theory. The authors hypothesized that three-compartment VDA/VA calculated using partial pressures of four inhalational agents (VDA/VAG) is different from that calculated using carbon dioxide (VDA/VACO2) measurements, but similar to predictions from multicompartment models of physiologically realistic "log-normal" (Equation is included in full-text article.)distributions. In an observational study, inspired, end-tidal, arterial, and mixed venous partial pressures of halothane, isoflurane, sevoflurane, or desflurane were measured simultaneously with carbon dioxide in 52 cardiac surgery patients at two centers. VDA/VA was calculated from three-compartment model theory and compared for all gases. Ideal alveolar (PAG) and end-capillary partial pressure (Pc'G) of each agent, theoretically identical, were also calculated from end-tidal and arterial partial pressures adjusted for deadspace and venous admixture. Calculated VDA/VAG was larger (mean ± SD) for halothane (0.47 ± 0.08), isoflurane (0.55 ± 0.09), sevoflurane (0.61 ± 0.10), and desflurane (0.65 ± 0.07) than VDA/VACO2 (0.23 ± 0.07 overall), increasing with lower blood solubility (slope [Cis], -0.096 [-0.133 to -0.059], P < 0.001). There was a significant difference between calculated ideal PAG and Pc'G median [interquartile range], PAG 5.1 [3.7, 8.9] versus Pc'G 4.0[2.5, 6.2], P = 0.011, for all agents combined. The slope of the relationship to solubility was predicted by the log-normal lung model, but with a lower magnitude relative to calculated VDA/VAG. Alveolar deadspace for anesthetic agents is much larger than for carbon dioxide and related to blood solubility. Unlike the three-compartment model, multicompartment (Equation is included in full-text article.)scatter models explain this from physiologically realistic gas uptake distributions, but suggest a residual factor other than solubility, potentially diffusion limitation, contributes to deadspace.

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