Structure and function relationships of the respiratory muscles

J. Sauleda, J. Gea, M. Orozco-Levi, J. Corominas, J. Minguella, C. Aguar, J. Broquetas, A. G.N. Agustí

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Potential relationships between the structure of the diaphragm and external intercostals and several indices of respiratory muscle function, lung function and nutrition in 27 patients (61±10 yrs of age) subjected to thoracotomy as a result of a lung neoplasm have been investigated. Prior to surgery the nutritional status of the patients was assessed and lung function (spirometry, lung volumes, transfer factor of the lungs for carbon monoxide, arterial blood gases) and respiratory muscle function (maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) and diaphragmatic function were measured). Biopsies of the diaphragm (and external intercostals) were obtained during surgery. On average, patients showed mild airflow limitation (forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), 70±14% of predicted value, FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC), 70±9%) with some air trapping (residual volume (RV), 139±50% pred) and normal gas exchange (arterial oxygen tension (Pa,O2), 113±133 kPa (85±10 mmHg)) and arterial carbon dioxide tension (Pa,CO2) 5.4±0.5 kPa (40.6±4 mmHg). MIP was 77±25% pred; maximal transdiaphragmatic pressure was 90±27 cmH2O. Most morphometric measurements of the diaphragm and external intercostals were within the range of values reported previously in other skeletal muscles. The size of the fibres of these two respiratory muscles was positively related (p<0.05) to MIP (% pred). There were no significant relationships between the structure of both muscles and nutritional status or any index of lung function. In conclusion, in the population studied, the fibre size of the diaphragm and external intercostals appears to relate to their ability to generate force.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-911
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1998


  • Diaphragmatic function
  • Maximal inspiratory pressure
  • Morphometry
  • Respiratory muscles

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