Standard Article

Inert Gas Transport in Blood and Tissues

  1. A. Barry Baker1,
  2. Andrew D. Farmery2

Published Online: 1 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100011

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Baker, A. B. and Farmery, A. D. 2011. Inert Gas Transport in Blood and Tissues. Comprehensive Physiology. 1:569–592.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Anaesthesia, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia

  2. 2

    Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics and Wadham College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2011


This article establishes the basic mathematical models and the principles and assumptions used for inert gas transfer within body tissues—first, for a single compartment model and then for a multicompartment model. From these, and other more complex mathematical models, the transport of inert gases between lungs, blood, and other tissues is derived and compared to known experimental studies in both animals and humans. Some aspects of airway and lung transfer are particularly important to the uptake and elimination of inert gases, and these aspects of gas transport in tissues are briefly described. The most frequently used inert gases are those that are administered in anesthesia, and the specific issues relating to the uptake, transport, and elimination of these gases and vapors are dealt with in some detail showing how their transfer depends on various physical and chemical attributes, particularly their solubilities in blood and different tissues. Absorption characteristics of inert gases from within gas cavities or tissue bubbles are described, and the effects other inhaled gas mixtures have on the composition of these gas cavities are discussed. Very brief consideration is given to the effects of hyper- and hypobaric conditions on inert gas transport. © 2011 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 1:569-592, 2011.