Mechanics of the abdominal muscles in rabbits and dogs

Edgardo D'Angelo, Edi Prandi, François Bellemare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In anesthetized, apneic rabbits and dogs, direct tetanic stimulations of the abdominal muscles (AMS) were performed at different tracheal pressures (Ptr) in the supine and upright posture. Lung volume (V), esophageal (Pes) and abdominal pressure (Pab), circumference of the upper and lower lung apposed rib cage (Crc,u and Crc,l) and of the abdomen (Cab), and transverse diameter of the rib cage facing the abdominal contents (Drc,ab) were measured. At Ptr=0, Pab and Pes increased, and V decreased with increasing the strength of AMS; ΔPes and ΔV eventually levelled off, while ΔPab was still increasing. Both ΔPes and ΔV were larger in the upright posture, whereas ΔPab were similar. Relative to the expiratory reserve volume (ERV), maximal ΔV in the supine and upright posture were 75.6±2.1 (mean±SE) and 86.1±2.2% in rabbits, and 56.5±3.4 and 75.2±3.7% in dogs. Maximal AMS decreased V and increased ΔPab the more so the larger the lung volume. In the volume range 10-70%VC, ΔV were 3-4%VD larger in the upright posture, while ΔPab were similar in both postures. With AMS, Cab decreased, and Crc,u and Crc,l increased, while Drc,ab increased in dogs and decreased in rabbits. Hence, (a) the abdominal muscles can account for most of the ERV, particularly in the upright posture; (b) their maximal deflationary effects on the lung are already reached with submaximal activation; (c) their expiratory capacity is hindered by the expansion of the lung apposed rib cage and limited by diaphragmatic passive tension, and (d) their efficiency is reduced by paradoxical motion and distortion both between and within the lung apposed rib cage and abdominal compartments. Possible mechanisms for the dependency of ΔV on species, volume and posture are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-291
Number of pages17
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Chest wall, mechanics
  • Mammals, dog, rabbit
  • Mechanics of breathing, chest wall
  • Respiratory muscles, abdominal, chest wall mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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