The thermal dye double indicator dilution technique for estimating lung water was compared with gravimetric analyses in nine human subjects who were organ donors. As observed in animal studies, the thermal dye measurement of extravascular thermal volume (EVTV) consistently overestimated gravimetric extravascular lung water (EVLW), the mean (SEM) difference being 3.43 (0.59) ml/kg. In eight of the nine subjects the EVTV -3.43 ml/kg would yield an estimate of EVLW that would be from 3.23 ml/kg under to 3.37 ml/kg over the actual value EVLW at the 95% confidence limits. Reproducibility, assessed with the standard error of the mean percentage, suggested that a 15% change in EVTV can be reliably detected with repeated measurements. One subject was excluded from analysis because the EVTV measurement grossly underestimated its actual EVLW. This error was associated with regional injury observed on gross examination of the lung. Experimental and clinical evidence suggest that the thermal dye measurement provides a reliable estimate of lung water in diffuse pulmonary oedema states.
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