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60 100 Po2 mmHg

FIGURE 9 A three-compartment model showing how Va/Q differences between lung units can increase the difference between mixed-alveolar Po2 (Pao2 = 116 mm Hg) and mixed-arterial Po2 (Pao2 = 55 mm Hg). Inspired Po2 is assumed normal (150 mmHg). Alveolar Po2 in any individual unit is assumed equal to the Po2 in end-capillary blood from that unit (open circles on O2 dissociation curve in lower panel). However, Po2 in mixed arterial blood is weighted toward Po2 in the low Va/Q units, and Po2 in mixed alveolar gas is weighted toward Po2 in the high Va/Q units. The shape of the O2 dissociation curve also contributes to the large alveolar-arterial Po2 difference as described in the text. (After West, Ventilation/blood flow and gas exchange. New York: Blackwell Scientific, 1990.)

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