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This study describes an experimental model of smoke inhalation injury in sheep, in which the same pathophysiologic alterations occur as with clinical inhalation in man. Both the patients and the experimental sheep develop diffuse pulmonary mucosal sloughing, pulmonary edema, and a decrease in systemic oxygen tension. The results of this study indicate that the pulmonary edema is the result of an increase in microvascular permeability, characterized by increases in lung lymph flow (Qlym), lymph-to-plasma protein concentration ratio (L/P), and transvascular protein flux (Qlym x lung lymph protein concentration), while pulmonary vascular pressures remain constant. Neutrophil degranulation may contribute to the increased microvascular permeability.