Anatomical dead space

This refers to the volume of the conducting airways, and is around 130-180 ml

(2 ml/kg throughout life) in the adult, i.e. about 1/3rd of the tidal volume (dead space ventilation (VD)/tidal volume (VT) ratio = 0.3). It can be measured by

Fowler's method:

* A single breath of 100% oxygen is inhaled and followed by a single expiration.

* On expiration, nitrogen concentration is continuously measured at the mouth. Nitrogen is measured as it does not participate in gas exchange. A simultaneous measurement of expired gas volume is carried out.

* The nitrogen concentration in the expired gas gradually rises as 100% oxygen is washed out of the conducting airways by alveolar gas. It plateaus when only alveolar gas is being exhaled.

* The volume of the anatomical dead space is equal to the volume that occurs half-way to the plateau point.

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