Measurement of pulmonary blood flow by fractal analysis of flow heterogeneity in isolated canine lungs

Scott A. Barman, Laryssa L. McCloud, John D. Catravas, Ina C. Ehrhart

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22 Scopus citations


Regional heterogeneity of lung blood flow can be measured by analyzing the relative dispersion (RD) of mass (weight)-flow data. Numerous studies have shown that pulmonary blood flow is fractal in nature, a phenomenon that can be characterized by the fractal dimension and the RD for the smallest realizable volume element (piece size). Although information exists for the applicability of fractal analysis to pulmonary blood flow in whole animal models, little is known in isolated organs. Therefore, the present study was done to determine the effect of blood flow rate on the distribution of pulmonary blood flow in the isolated blood-perfused canine lung lobe by using fractal analysis. Four different radiolabeled microspheres (141Ce, 95Nb, 85Sr, and 51Cr), each 15 μm in diameter, were injected into the pulmonary lobar artery of isolated canine lung lobes (n = 5) perfused at four different flow rates (flow 1 = 0.42 ± 0.02 l/min; flow 2 = 1.12 ± 0.07 l/min; flow 3 = 2.25 ± 0.17 l/min; flow 4 = 2.59 ± 0.17 l/min), and the pulmonary blood flow distribution was measured. The results of the present study indicate that under isogravimetric blood flow conditions, all regions of horizontally perfused isolated lung lobes received blood flow that was preferentially distributed to the most distal caudal regions of the lobe. Regional pulmonary blood flow in the isolated perfused canine lobe was heterogeneous and fractal in nature, as measured by the RD. As flow rates increased, fractal dimension values (averaging 1.22 ± 0.08) remained constant, whereas RD decreased, reflecting more homogeneous blood flow distribution. At any given blood flow rate, high-flow areas of the lobe received a proportionally larger amount of regional flow, suggesting that the degree of pulmonary vascular recruitment may also be spatially related.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2039-2045
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • fractal analysis
  • microspheres
  • pulmonary blood flow distribution
  • pulmonary vascular resistance
  • relative dispersion
  • vascular recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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