We assessed the longitudinal distribution of intra-airway heat and water exchanges and their effects on airway wall temperature by directly measuring respiratory fluctuations in airstream temperature and humidity, as well as airway wall temperature, at multiple sites along the airways of endotracheally intubated dogs. By comparing these axial thermal and water profiles, we have demonstrated that increasing minute ventilation of cold or warm dry air leads to 1) further penetration of unconditioned air into the lung, 2) a shift of the principal site of total respiratory heat loss from the trachea to the bronchi, and 3) alteration of the relative contributions of conductive and evaporative heat losses to local total (conductive plus evaporative) heat loss. These changes were not accurately reflected in global measurements of respiratory heat and water exchange made at the free end of the endotracheal tube. Raising the temperature of inspired dry air from frigid to near body temperature principally altered the mechanism of airway cooling but did not influence airway mucosal temperature substantially. When local heat loss was increased from both trachea and bronchi (by increasing minute ventilation), only the tracheal mucosal temperature fell appreciably (up to 4.0°C), even though the rise in heat loss from the bronchi about doubled that in the trachea. Thus it appears that the bronchi are better able to resist changes in airway wall temperature than is the trachea. These data indicate that the sites, magnitudes, and mechanisms of respiratory heat loss vary appreciably with breathing pattern and inspired gas temperature and that these changes cannot be predicted from measurements made at the mouth. In addition, they demonstrate that local heat (and presumably, water) sources that replenish mucosal heat and water lost to the airstream are important in determining the degree of local airway cooling (and presumably, drying).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)