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Biological and Medical Applications of Pressure and Fluids

Examples of Pressure in Humans

The most notable pressure in human body is the blood pressure in the major arteries.

Bladder Pressure

One of the most noticeable of bodily pressures, bladder pressure varies over a quite large range. It is zero when bladder is empty and climbs steadily to about 25 mmHg when the bladder reaches it normal capacity of some 500 cm3. The micturition reflex is triggered by a bladder pressure of about b25 mmHg. That reflex stimulates the feeling of urinating, and it further triggers muscle contractions around the bladder that can raise bladder pressure to 110 mmHg, accentuating the sensation.

Students studying for exams and authors striving to meet deadlines make many trips to the toilet. Pregnant women experience increased bladder pressure due to the weight of the fetus resting on the bladder and find it necessary to urinate frequently. Bladder pressure while urinating is normally 15-30 mmHg, but an obstruction of the urinary tract, such as from a swollen prostate gland, can necessitate pressures as large as 70 mmHg.

The larger the resistance of a tube, the larger the pressure difference needed to cause the same flow rate. Bladder pressure can be measured by catheterization through the urinary tract or by insertion of a needle through the abdominal wall into a bladder (called direct cystometry). The normal range is from 0-30 cm of water rising to 150 cm of water during the micturition reflex.

Cerebrospinal Pressure

The skull and spinal column contain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF supports the weight of the brain with buoyant force, acts as a protective cushion and supplies nutrients filtered from the blood. Normally CSF is absorbed in the spinal column as fast as it is generated in the skull. However, the narrow ventricle called the cerebral aqueduct can be blocked, causing pressure

to build inside the skull. This is a moderately common problem in infants called hydrocephalus. When detected early, the pressure and its effects can be minimized surgically. Spinal taps are performed for many reasons: to introduce dye for contrast on an x ray, or to withdraw CSF for density measurements. One side effect of spinal tap is severe headache. The CSF is slowly replenished over a period of four and five day, and in the meantime lying down distributes the remaining CSF evenly.

Pressure in the Eye


The shape of the eye is maintained by fluid pressure. This pressure is called the intraocular pressure; its normal range is 1224mmHg. The eye has two fluid-filled chambers. The front chamber contains aqueous humor and the rear chamber contains vitreous humor.

About 5 cm3 of aqueous humor is produced daily in the eye. Excess fluid flows out through a canal and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Aqueous humor is similar in character to cerebrospinal fluid and carries nutrients to the lens and cornea. Pressure created by the aqueous humor is transmitted throughout the vitreous humor. Vitreous humor is a jellylike substance that does not circulate and is not replenished. Pressure in the vitreous humor

holds the retina flush against the interior parts of the eyeball and helps to maintain the shape of the eye. Partial blockage of the drainage canal for the aqueous humor results in pressure buildup in the entire eye. Intraocular pressure can rise to as much as 85 mmHg, the average arterial blood pressure. Excessive intraocular pressure is a symptom of glaucoma and can result in blindness due to deterioration of the retina.

Glaucoma is most common in people over 40, who consequently are routinely tested for high intraocular pressure. Intraocular pressure is measured by number of techniques, most of which involve exerting a force on the eye over a certain area (pressure) and observing its resulting deformation and rebound. Glaucoma is treated with drugs that suppresses the production of aqueous humor or by surgery to supply a drainage path.

Pressure in the Gastrointestinal System


Food, drink and waste products moving through the 6-m-long digestive tract are fluid or fluidlike in character. Their flow is regulated by pressure and especially by the valves and sphincter muscles in the system. Thoracic cavity pressure is sometimes monitored by measuring pressure in the esophagus.

A sphincter is needed at the junction of the esophagus and stomach to prevent backflow of stomach fluids, the most common cause of heartburn. During swallowing, muscle action in the esophagus forces fluids into the stomach. y Pressures in the GI system are increased by swallowed air or by flatus produced by bacterial action, causing cramps. This is very common in infants, who often swallow air while eating. Blockages in the GI system also cause pressure to increase, even to the point of rupture, due to buildup of fluids.

The stomach is elastic, so pressure in it increases gradually, becoming large only when stomach is overfilled. The pressure is dependent on the capacity of stomach, which can change with eating habits. The stomach stretches considerably when a person consistently overeats, and a large stomachs relative emptiness triggers the sensation of hunger before the person really needs more food.

A tube is inserted through the patients nose and down the esophagus into the stomach (called a nasogastric tube). This feeding method is useful for patients who have difficulty swallowing but are not liable to vomit.

Pressure in the Skeleton

Pressures in the skeletal system are far larger than any of the fluid pressures. Being as large 7600 mmHg under normal circumstances. Skeletal pressure depend on physical activity. y Pressure in the skeletal system is the force carried by a bone or joint divided by the area on which it is exerted.

The knee joint area reduces the pressure at the joint and prevents its deterioration. The large flat area however reduces pressure on the tissues covering the bone when forces are exerted by the hand.

Molecular Phenomena and Biological Process y A number of biological processes can be explained in terms of the behavior of molecules.

Diffusion is the movement of substances due to random thermal molecular motion. y Materials moved by diffusion thus move much more slowly than the average speed of a molecule.

Ficks first law about rate of diffusion and direction



The direction of diffusion is always from a region of higher concentration to region of lower concentration. The rate of diffusion is directly proportional to the difference in concentration between two regions.

The rate of diffusion depends on other factors in addition to concentration differences. Cohesive and adhesive forces also affect the rate of diffusion. y The rate of diffusion increases as the temperature increases. This is because the average molecular speed increases with temperature and the energy available to break cohesive bonds increases.

Diffusion Through Membranes

Permeability Most membranes are semipermeable. This is because of numerous factors such as the chemistry of the membrane, cohesive and adhesive forces, charges of ions involved and the existence of carrier molecules.


Is usually defined as the transport of water through a semi-permeable membrane due to an imbalance on its concentration on either side of the membrane.

Reverse osmosis

takes place when the pressure opposing osmosis exceeds the osmotic pressure.

If one of the solution is pure water, then the pressure necessary to stop the flow of water from the region of high concentration to the region of lower concentration.

Relative osmotic pressure

The pressure on the right is then greater than the pressure on the left by amount of hpg ;where p is the density of the liquid, this extra pressure was created by osmosis, and once h becomes large enough, the pressure forces water back through the membrane as the same rate as it moves through osmosis.

Water intake by Roots and turgor in plants Epsom salts Regulation of fluid between cells (interstitial fluid) Swelling (edema) due to heart failure Effect of electrolyte balance


Water intake by roots and turgor in plants

-osmosis between water and roots is thought o be
responsible for the transfer of water into many plants. Ground water is purer and has a higher concentration than sap, so osmosis moves water into roots. Water in sap is then transferred by osmosis into cells causing them to swell with increased pressure. This pressure is called turgor pressure partly responsible for availability for plants to stand up.

Epsom salt -soaking a sprinkled ankle in epsom salt is a

common method of reducing swelling. The concentration of the water in the swollen part of the ankle is greater than in he epsom salts solution. Osmosis therefore transports water out of the ankle into the soaking solution.

Regulation of the fluids between cells

-I n humans and other animals the interstitial fluid is regulated by exchange of substances with blood in capillaries. Many substances are moved across the capillary but the transport of water is of immediate interest.

Swelling edema due to heart failure -if the patient suffers from right heart failure,
then the heart is less effective in taking up the blood sent to it, the pressure at the right capillary rises. EdemaEdema-causes reverse osmosis all along the capillary and the build up of interstitial fluid. Pulmonary Edema-If the patient is experiencing Edemaleft heart failure, the pressure increases in the lungs, causing reverse osmosis. And there is the water build up.

Effect of electrolyte balance -too much salt consumption causes water

retention because osmosis carry water from the salty blood into the interstitial region. ElectrolyteElectrolyte-essentially dissolved salts.


through semi permeable membrane and occurs in kidneys and many other places in biological organisms.

Reverse Dialysis -also called filtration

-occurs in high concentration side is large enough to reverse the normal direction of dialysis.

Two examples of dialysis in humans

Kidney function Effects of diuretics

Kidney failure
Can cause high blood pressure. If filtration slows or stops in glomerulus, the kidney emits a hormone called renin that causes blood pressure to rise so that filtration recommences. high blood pressure can even cause capillaries in the glomerulus to burst.

Effects of Diuretics
Diuretics- any substance that increased urine outputs. -the presence of such molecule decreases the concentration of water in the tube and its reabsorption , resulting in a greater production of water in the urine.

Active transport -in which the living membrane itself supplies

energy to cause the transport of a substance. -can also aid ordinary osmosis or dialysis and explains why some transport proceeds faster than osmosis and dialysis alone.

The Cardiovascular System

- many of the characteristics of vascular system can be explained in terms of laws of physics. -cardiovascular system is consist of two pumps the right side of the heart and the left side of the heart and complex arrangement of vessels that transports blood through nearly every part of the body. -the maximum and minimum pressure is systolic and diastolic. DiastolicDiastolic-due to the elasticity of the arteries *minimum pressure is 80mm Hg.

The Heart as a Double Pump

-the purpose of any pump is to create pressure exerting a force directly in the fluid. -the heart of some animals including humans, consist of two pumps and two reservoirs preceding those pumps. -right side of the heart pumps blood trough the lungs to the left side of the heart. -left side of the heart pumps blood through the rest of circulatory system , returning it to the right side of he heart , where the process begins again

Pressures around the system -resistance in the system causes pressure to drop
as blood flows in the system. P1 P2=FR *where P1 is the pressure at the entrance of a tube and P2 at its exit -pressure drop is equal to the resistance and flow rate. The resistance R depends strongly on the radius, so the pressure drop in the aorta is fairly small, while in the capillaries is fairly large.

Blood Velocities and Branching

y y

The velocity of Blood in major arteries = 30cm/sec which is greater then capillaries=0.03cm.sec Average blood velocity are due to changes in the total cross-sectional area of the system during branching

ex) the aorta branches into the major arteries, each of it has a smaller cross-sectional area, but whose combined area is larger than the area of the aorta. Flow rate of aorta = Flow rate of major arteries

Velocity decreases when the total area has increased. y The decrease in velocity going from the aorta to the capillaries is not caused by resistance to flow. It caused pressure to drop but does not affect velocity. y The return of blood to the heart through the veins is aided by the contraction of skeletal muscles(extermeties) with oneway valves

Effect of gravity on the circulatory system

Gravity affects pressure not flow rate. y In any closed system, pressure due to gravity has no net effect on the flow rate. ex) Atmosphere has no effect on Flow in an IV. y Gravity can have an effect on fluid balance.

Flow regulation in the circulatory system

The body has considerable latitude in blood flow regulation. y Blood flow is adjusted by changes in vessel radii and by changes in blood pressure. y Poiseuilles law : Flow rate=(P1+ P2)/R y Resistance always decreases when radius increases and increase when viscosity increases.

Body adjusts blood flow by changing vessel radii. y Most vessel dilation and constriction occur in small arteries and arterioles. y Flow is adjusted by changes in arterial blood pressure(P1) while venous blood pressure(P2) remains constant.

Applicability of Poiseuilles Las

It doesn't quantitatively describe blood flow very accurately for a several reasons. y First, blood is not an ideal fluid: Blood contains RBC, which are not fluid and they are large enough to affect flow in vessels. y Second, vessel walls are not rigid: flow is affected as they expand and contract with each heartbeat. y Third, Poiseuiils law is only valid for nonturbulent flow: High blood velocity, sharp bends or constrictions, and blood cells can all cause turbulence.

Turbulence : A diagnostic Indicator

Turbulence can be detected by the sound it makes. ex) the noise that a water faucet makes is the sound of turbulent flow around its valve. y The sound of turbulence is a valuable diagnostic indicator y It is easily detected with a stethoscope.

y y y y y y

Heart murmurs : the sounds made by leaking heart valves A hole between heart chambers is another cause of turbulent flow. Aneurysm : a ballooning of a vessel due to a weakened wall. Irregular shape of an aneurysms can cause turbulence Turbulence is used to make common blood pressure measurements Two pressures are recorded : the maximum heart pressure(systolic) and the minimum arterial pressure (diastolic). Korotkoff sound : the turbulent sounds make by blood flow in this measurement

Laplaces Law and wall tension in the circulatory system.

The higher the pressure, the thicher the wall must be, but small-diameter tubes(capiliaries) have thinner walls then expected. y Blood pressure in capiilaries = 25mm Hg in Aorta = 100mm Hg y Capillaries have small diameters less area for pressure to act upon less force on the capillary wall.

The Laplaces Law Tension in the wall =Pressure in the tube x radius of the tube. y This law explain how a thin walls tolerates pressures as large as aorta. y The dependence of wall tension in a tube on pressure, and radius as expressed by Laplace's law shows importance of ramifications I the circulatory system. y The left ventricle has thicker walls and a smaller radius than the right ventricles left ventricles creates pressures several times greater than the right ventricle.

Energy and Power

Energy and power supplied by the Heart. All the energy that the heart expends ends up as thermal energy. The heart gives energy to the blood in 3 forms 1.Blood is given kinetic energy as its accelerated out of the heart in the circulatory system 2. The heart also supplies gravitational potential energy to blood when it pumped to a higher point. 3. Another form of potential energy is supplied to blood when the heart increase blood pressure.

As the blood circulates through the body, its energy is converted to thermal energy buy resistance to flow fluid friction y For fluids it's convenient to consider the kinetic and potential energies per unit volume y Potential energy per unit volune in a fluid PE/V= hpg + P
PE= potential energy V= volume h= depth p= density g=gravity P=pressure

hpg is unchanged in the round trip, but pressure is reduces PE is lost it is converted to thermal energy as pressure is reduced by resistance.

PE/V is constant in a static fluid and pressure depends only on depth in a static fluid. y The kinetic energy per unit volume in a fluid KE/V = 1/2pv2 y m/V is just the density p, so the kinetic energy per unit volume in a fluid is KE/V = 1/2pv2 y Adding the kinetic and potential energies per unit volume in as fluid gives the Total Energy per Unit Volume in a Fluid. E/V = KE/V + PE/V

Thus E/V=1/52pv2 + hpg + P


E= Total energy V= volume h= depth p= density g=gravity

To find the power supplies by the heart, This equation is solved for the total energy D by heart. E=(1/2pv2+hpg+P)V y This energy divided by time =the power supplied by the heart. Power= E/t=(1/2pv2 hpg+P)V/t y Volume divided by time is flow rate y The power is referred to as the Kinetic power : the power used to increase the speed of the blood and Pressure power(hpg)

The Physics of Respiration

Respiratory System Functions:  Oxygenates and remove carbon dioxide from blood.  Exchanges heat with the environment.  Make sound as in talking and singing.

Breathing Mechanism
When the pressure in the lungs is greater than the atmospheric pressure, the air flows out of the lungs. When the pressure in the lungs is less than the atmospheric pressure, the air flows into the lungs. ( Provided that the passages are unobstructed. ) During inhalation, there is an increase in volume of the lungs, pressure falls. During exhalation, the volume of the lungs decreases, pressure arises.

Ficks Law
Diffusion of gases between air in the lungs and blood proceeds in a direction from high to low concentration. Partial pressure, if a mixture occupies a given volume, it is the pressure that it would exert if it alone occupied the entire volume.

Daltons Law of Partial pressure

-formulated by John Dalton The total pressure due to a mixture of gases is equal to the sum of partial pressures due to each gas. This statement shows that partial pressure is directly proportional to concentration and can be used as a measure of concentration.

Millimeters of Mercury (mmHg)

Unit for pressure. Indicates the concentration of a gas. 1 atm = 760 mmHg


Device associated with the circulatory system Heart valve replacements is using natural or artificial valves and have been practical for many years. Muscle action is not needed to operate replacement valves since they are opened and closed by pressure differences.

Artificial heart valve

Devices associated with the respiratory system

Ventilators and respirators are used to move air in and out of the lungs. Ventilators are used by those persons who have seriously impaired ability to breath, such as injury, comatose state and thoracic surgery.

Positive pressure ventilators

Negative pressure respirators

Applied pressure is returned to the atmospheric pressure to allow the patient to exhale. y Done using Bernoullis effect or with nebulizers

Are typified by the iron lungs y Air pressure is lowered in the lungs and air flows in.

Positive and negative pressure



Lung volumes:
Tidal volume volume inhaled in a normal breath. Inspiratory reserve volume additional volume that can still be inhaled. Expiratory reserve volume additional volume that can still be exhaled. Vital capacity maximum amount of air that can be exhaled.

A device for measuring gas flow rates. Designed for one gas due to sensitivity to gas density and must not be used to measure the flow rate of another gas.

Inspiration spirometers
- Similar to rotameters, used to help exercise the lungs of a bed-confined patients. - Goal is to get the patient inflate his lungs fully and prevent oxygen starvation and carbon dioxide buildup and to remove phlegm for the breathing passages.

Used to drain fluids from thoracic cavity while preventing accidental admission of air into the thoracic cavity.

Labor Monitors
- used to indicate the pressure in the fluid surrounding the fetus (amniotic fluid) during labor. labor.

Internal labor monitors

External labor monitors

Inserted through the birth canal and placed at the amniotic sac.

Is pushed upward and a transducer converts the movement to an electrical that is recorded.

Jannah Antonino y Laurice Bacosa y Irene Lee y Ma. Karen Marmolejo