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Distribution of Perfusion

  1. Robb Glenny,
  2. H. Thomas Robertson

Published Online: 1 JAN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100012

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Glenny, R. and Robertson, H. T. 2011. Distribution of Perfusion. Comprehensive Physiology. 1:245–262.

Author Information

  1. Departments of Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JAN 2011


Local driving pressures and resistances within the pulmonary vascular tree determine the distribution of perfusion in the lung. Unlike other organs, these local determinants are significantly influenced by regional hydrostatic and alveolar pressures. Those effects on blood flow distribution are further magnified by the large vertical height of the human lung and the relatively low intravascular pressures in the pulmonary circulation. While the distribution of perfusion is largely due to passive determinants such as vascular geometry and hydrostatic pressures, active mechanisms such as vasoconstriction induced by local hypoxia can also redistribute blood flow. This chapter reviews the determinants of regional lung perfusion with a focus on vascular tree geometry, vertical gradients induced by gravity, the interactions between vascular and surrounding alveolar pressures, and hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction. While each of these determinants of perfusion distribution can be examined in isolation, the distribution of blood flow is dynamically determined and each component interacts with the others so that a change in one region of the lung influences the distribution of blood flow in other lung regions. © 2011 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 1:245-262, 2011.