ABDOMINAL distention may cause dyspnea in patients without disease of the heart or lungs and may aggravate dyspnea of patients with heart disease.* Reports of measurements of lung volumes and pulmonary ventilation in patients with distention of the abdomen are characterized by variability of methods, conditions of study, and results. Most previous observations were largely incidental and often were made on single cases.†
The present study was undertaken to determine the effects of abdominal distention by ascites on lung volumes and ventilatory function, to elucidate the mechanisms by which abdominal distention produces dyspnea, and to ascertain whether relief following reduction of distention is accompanied by measurable changes in pulmonary function.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Selection of Patients.
—Thirteen patients with massive ascites were studied before and within 48 hours after paracentesis. In two of these patients (Cases 7 and 8) the studies were repeated when fluid had reaccumulated several months later