Superior vena caval pressure elevation causes pleural effusion formation in sheep. Academic Article uri icon


  • The effect of superior vena caval pressure (SVCP) elevation on the formation of pleural effusions (PE) was studied in sheep. Through a right thoracotomy, a Silastic cuff was placed around the superior vena cava. Catheters for monitoring SVCP and pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) were also placed. After a 1- to 3-wk recovery period, we measured the SVCP, PAP, cardiac output, and plasma protein concentration (Cp). We then elevated the SVCP to various levels from base line [5.3 +/- 2.6 (SD) mmHg] to 33 mmHg. The cardiac output, PAP, and Cp were remeasured 1-2 h and 24 h after SVCP elevation. At the end of the 24-h period, the animals were killed. The PE volume and pleural fluid protein concentration (Cpl) were measured, and the Cpl/Cp was calculated. PE generally did not occur until the SVCP was elevated above 15 mmHg. To study the effect of the thoracotomy on the subsequent pleural effusion, we studied six additional sheep in which we did not perform a thoracotomy. In these animals, the SVCP was elevated to between 5 and 28 mmHg for 24 h by use of a 16-Fr balloon catheter placed via a left external jugular vein and a right carotid-external jugular shunt. We found that the PE volume, for a given SVCP elevation, was similar to that present in sheep that received a thoracotomy. For all sheep the volume of PE was related to SVCP by the equation PE (ml) = 0.24e0.26SVCP, r = 0.85. In the sheep without a thoracotomy, Cpl/Cp rose with increasing volume of PE. Our data demonstrate that elevation of SVCP greater than 15 mmHg for 24 h results in the formation of PE. The rise in Cpl/Cp with PE volume suggests that filtration through the pleural vessels is not the major contributor to PE formation.

published proceedings

  • Am J Physiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Allen, S. J., Laine, G. A., Drake, R. E., & Gabel, J. C.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Allen, SJ||Laine, GA||Drake, RE||Gabel, JC

publication date

  • September 1988