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The partial pressure of oxygen (pO_{2}) in the pulmonary alveoli is required to calculate both the alveolar-arterial gradient of oxygen and the amount of right-to-left cardiac shunt, which are both clinically useful quantities. However it is not practical to take a sample of gas from the alveoli in order to directly measure the partial pressure of oxygen. The alveolar gas equation allows the calculation of the alveolar partial pressure of oxygen from data that is practically measurable. It was first characterized in 1946.^{[1]}
The equation relies on the following assumptions:
If F_{I}O_{2} is small, or more specifically if then the equation can be simplified to:
where:
Quantity | Description | Sample value |
---|---|---|
p_{A}O_{2} | The alveolar partial pressure of oxygen (pO_{2}) | 107 mmHg (14.2 kPa) |
F_{I}O_{2} | The fraction of inspired gas that is oxygen (expressed as a decimal). | 0.21 |
P_{ATM} | The prevailing atmospheric pressure | 760 mmHg (101 kPa) |
pH_{2}O | The saturated vapour pressure of water at body temperature and the prevailing atmospheric pressure | 47 mmHg (6.25 kPa) |
p_{a}CO_{2} | The arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO_{2}) | 40 mmHg (5.33 kPa) |
RER | The respiratory exchange ratio | 0.8 |
Sample Values given for air at sea level at 37°C.
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