In persons with healthy lungs and in patients with chronic pulmonary emphysema, the distribution of ventilation within the lung was assessed by the wash-out and wash-in technique. The evaluation process is designed to enable determination of relative values of ventilation in two functionally uniform lung compartments. A distinction of more than two compartments in the lung is not possible on the basis of wash-in and wash-out studies. Distribution of blood perfusion was estimated from these data and from O2 consumption and arterial O2 saturation. In some healthy subjects, the arterial O2 saturation predicted on the basis of wash-in studies and the assumption of even perfusion is identical with the measured value; in cases where the predicted O2 saturation differs with the measured value there, the less-ventilated alveoli must be underperfused with blood. The discrepancy in the predicted and observed arterial O2 saturation in some emphysema subjects could mean that the poorly ventilated alveoli are contrary relative overperfused with blood

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