Flow limitation in liquid-filled lungs is examined in intact rabbit experiments and a theoretical model. Flow limitation (“choked” flow) occurs when the expiratory flow reaches a maximum value and further increases in driving pressure do not increase the flow. In total liquid ventilation this is characterized by the sudden development of excessively negative airway pressures and airway collapse at the choke point. The occurrence of flow limitation limits the efficacy of total liquid ventilation by reducing the minute ventilation. In this paper we investigate the effects of liquid properties on flow limitation in liquid-filled lungs. It is found that the behavior of liquids with similar densities and viscosities can be quite different. The results of the theoretical model, which incorporates alveolar compliance and airway resistance, agrees qualitatively well with the experimental results. Lung compliance and airway resistance are shown to vary with the perfluorocarbon liquid used to fill the lungs. Surfactant is found to modify the interfacial tension between saline and perfluorocarbon, and surfactant activity at the interface of perfluorocarbon and the native aqueous lining of the lungs appears to induce hysteresis in pressure–volume curves for liquid-filled lungs. Ventilation with a liquid that results in low viscous resistance and high elastic recoil can reduce the amount of liquid remaining in the lungs when choke occurs, and, therefore, may be desirable for liquid ventilation.

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