Effects of pentobarbital anesthesia on intercostal muscle activation and shortening

A. F. DiMarco, G. S. Supinski, K. E. Kowalski, J. R. Romaniuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although pentobarbital (PB) is a commonly used anesthetic in animal studies examining respiratory motor control, there are virtually no studies that have examined the differential effects of deepening anesthesia on the activation of the various intercostal muscles. In dogs, anesthetized initially with 25 mg/kg of PB, the effects of additional doses of PB (20 mg) provided every 15 min on intercostal electromyogram (EMG) were monitored. In each animal, peak external intercostal (EI) and levator costae (LC) activation progressively decreased with additional doses of PB and were eventually abolished, at which point peak parasternal (PA) EMG had increased to 127 ± 13% (SE) of control values; peak diaphragm EMG was unaffected. The reductions in EI activation were associated with progressive reductions in EI muscle shortening that, in turn, were associated with progressive reductions in lateral rib cage expansion. PA shortening was not significantly affected. Similar results were obtained in animals breathing supplemental oxygen. These results indicate that 1) activation of EI and LC compared with PA have divergent responses, with EI and LC decreasing and PA increasing; 2) the fall in EI activation results in decrements in EI shortening and lateral rib cage motion; and 3) anesthetic depth is an important variable that must be controlled in studies assessing intercostal muscle activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-932
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994


  • diaphragm
  • external intercostal
  • parasternal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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