Chapter 3 - Resistance to gas flow and airway closure
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Publisher SummaryThe excessive resistance to gas flow is the commonest and most important cause of ventilatory failure. The severe obstruction to breathing is life threatening and can arise anywhere from the smallest airways through the tracheobronchial tree, larynx, and pharynx to include external factors and any apparatus through which the patient can be breathing. The gas flows from a region of high pressure to one of lower pressure. The rate at which it does so is a function of the pressure difference and the resistance to gas flow. The precise relationship between pressure difference and flow rate depends on the nature of the flow that can be either laminar or turbulent or a mixture of the two. It is useful to consider laminar and turbulent flow as two separate entities but mixed patterns of flow usually occur in the respiratory tract. The viscosity is the only property of a gas that is relevant under the conditions of laminar flow.

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