Position affects distribution of ventilation in the lungs of older people: an experimental study

Krieg S., Alison J.A., McCarren B., Cowell S.

Ten healthy adults older than 65 years were assessed for the effect of sitting and right side lying on the distribution of ventilation during tidal volume breathing. In sitting 9% more ventilation went to the right lung while the cranial – caudal distribution was greatest in the middle region followed by the basal region with least distribution to the apical region. In right side lying ventilation to the right lung was 32% more than to the left lung. The cranial-caudal distribution in this position was once again most distribution to the middle region, followed by the basal region and least to the apical region.

Clinical relevance: It is possible in the older adult that closing volume affects distribution of ventilation to the most gravity dependant regions of the lung which may mean modifying positions when basal regions are being treated.

Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 2007; 53: 179 – 184