Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
the rate at which a gas diffuses across the alveolocapillary membrane per unit difference in the partial pressure of the gas across the membrane, expressed in ml/min/mm Hg. Because of their high affinity for hemoglobin, both oxygen and carbon monoxide are limited in their rate of diffusion by their diffusing capacity. The diffusing capacity of the lung for these gases is symbolized by DlO2 and DlCO. The parameter usually measured is DlCO. The normal value for the diffusing capacity of oxygen is 20 ml/min/mm Hg. If, during quiet breathing, the pressure difference of oxygen averages 11 mm Hg, a total of approximately 220 ml of oxygen diffuses through the respiratory membrane each minute. During strenuous exercise or other conditions that increase pulmonary activity, the diffusing capacity may increase to three times as much as that during rest. Pulmonary diseases that damage the respiratory membrane greatly interfere with the capacity of the oxygen to pass through the membrane and oxygenate the blood.
dif·fus·ing ca·pac·i·ty(symbol, D, followed by subscripts indicating location and chemical species),
the amount of oxygen taken up by pulmonary capillary blood per minute per unit average oxygen pressure gradient between alveolar gas and pulmonary capillary blood; units are: ml/min/mm Hg; also applied to other gases such as carbon monoxide, which is used in the standard clinical measure of diffusing capacity.
diffusing capacityPulmonary medicine A measure of a substance's efficiency in transversing a particular barrier, which in the lungs corresponds to the ability of gases in the alveolar space to enter the blood, and of the gases in the blood to enter the alveoli for removal from the body by exhalation. See Pulmonary function test.
dif·fus·ing ca·pa·ci·ty(di-fyūz'ing kă-pas'i-tē)
The amount of oxygen taken up by pulmonary capillary blood per minute per unit average oxygen pressure gradient between alveolar gas and pulmonary capillary blood; units are: mL/min/mmHg; also applied to other gases such as carbon monoxide.