Most measurements of pulmonary blood volume have been based on the Stewart-Hamilton dye dilution principle and have required direct catheterisation of the cardiac chambers. Alternatively a precordial counter may be used to detect the composite right and left heart curves after an intravenous injection of radionuclide. We investigated the use of a gamma camera/computer system to determine the radionuclide dilution curves from individual cardiac chambers. Pulmonary transit time and pulmonary blood volume were measured in nine normal subjects, eight patients with angina pectoris but without heart failure, and 13 patients with ischaemic heart disease and left ventricular failure. Patients with heart failure had significantly greater (p less than 0.001) pulmonary blood volumes and pulmonary transit times than normal subjects or patients without heart failure. Reproducibility measurements of pulmonary blood volume, determined in 12 subjects, gave a coefficient of variation of 2.6%. The effect of posture on pulmonary blood volume was determined in six subjects lying supine and tilted at a 45 degree angle. A reduction in pulmonary blood volume in the tilted position was observed in each subject (p less than 0.005). This simple non-invasive measurement should allow more detailed assessment of physiological or pharmacological changes of the pulmonary vascular bed.
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