Work of breathing

During quiet respiration, inspiration occurs through diaphragmatic contraction decreasing the intra-thoracic pressure and drawing air into the respiratory tree. This pressure must be great enough to overcome airway resistance and the compliance of the lung and chest wall. Elastic recoil

Pneumotaxic center

Chemosensitive area

Pneumotaxic center

Chemosensitive area

Ventral group

Dorsal group

Figure 8.8. The respiratory center. Note the location of the three regulatory groups of neurons (dorsal, ventral, and pneumotaxic) within the pons and medulla.

Ventral group

Dorsal group

Figure 8.8. The respiratory center. Note the location of the three regulatory groups of neurons (dorsal, ventral, and pneumotaxic) within the pons and medulla.

is responsible for expiration and the whole process of breathing utilizes very little energy, only 1-2% of the total body oxygen consumption. During active respiration, the accessory muscles are used for inspiration and the abdominal muscles and internal intercostals are used for expiration. Much more energy is required and the work of breathing may consume as much as 25% of the body's total oxygen consumption. It is little wonder that compromised patients quickly fatigue with such an increased work of breathing.

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