Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Bung Lung

When your lungs can't get it done.
  [vote for,

The lungs have enormous surface area which is used for gas exchange. Blood close to the surface of the alveoli drop off CO2 and absorb O2. But sometimes the lungs are hurt, and can't get the job done.

The other organ with surface area comparable to the lung is the intestine. Usually this area is used to absorb nutrients and excrete waste, but the blood doesn't know the difference - with the right concentration gradients gas exchange could occur just as easily.

I propose the Bung Lung for folks who have temporarily or permanently impaired lungs. An oxygenated fluorocarbon fluid (in existence - see link) would be infused into the intestine, and gently circulated via an indwelling tube. Oxygen would be absorbed and CO2 excreted. An external machine would then filter the fluorocarbon and restore gas balance.

This machine might be used for premature infants to allow time for lung development. It is more physiologic and less invasive than existing "extracorporeal circulation" machines which use indwelling arterial catheters. A portable backpack version could be devised for those with weak lungs but strong sphincters, to allow them to go about their lives unimpeded by lack of lungs.

bungston, Mar 12 2003

Perfluorocarbons http://classes.kumc...lation/wikeper.html
This stuff is so dang cool. [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Partly baked by dragonfly larvae. http://www.earthlif...nsects/odonata.html
These critters pump water in and out of their rectum to respire. [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Lake Titicaca Frog http://www.eeb.ucon...96S02/SNPHOTO28.jpg
Who needs lungs when you got that much skin? The same tyrannical principle applies. [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       alternative title: the Ass-pirator.
sambwiches, Mar 12 2003

       //Ass-pirator// LOL!   

       Your idea reminds me of the movie The Abyss, only the fluid's clear, not pink.   

       Anyway, your idea deserves to stay, if only for [sambwiches] humor and your cool Perfluorocarbon link.
FloridaManatee, Mar 12 2003

       This explains how some folks are able to breathe, even with their heads up their asses.
thumbwax, Mar 12 2003

       Scubla diving?

       Self Contained Underwater Bung Lung Apperatice.   

       I can just picture Whitney Houston in a crowded elevator, waiting to exhale.   

       The only disadvantage I find: Everything would smell REALLY bad.
Pericles, Mar 12 2003

       What about abdominal perfusion ? It's used as an adjunct to dialysis, and (possibly) to raise body temperature rapidy in cases of hypothermia. Could a nonreactive sterile, oxygenated flurocarbon be cicrulated through the abdominal cavity to provide additional "respiration" ?
8th of 7, Mar 13 2003

       OUCH! ouch! It hurts! Make the laughing stop! It HURTS!
phoenix, Mar 13 2003

       In regard to [8th of 7]'s idea about using the peritoneum - it could be done. The intestine is probably better because it has a very high surface to volume ratio compared to the peritoneum and so would be better suited for gas exchange. Compared to the peritoneum the intestine is tougher and accustomed to hard poop, corn, etc - and so might more readily accomodate perfluorcarbon swishing back and forth.   

       Now I am wondering if the gut could be used for dialysis. Hmmm....
bungston, Mar 13 2003

       For a somewhat less -icky- alternative, a dialysis machine could probably be modified to work on the same principle.* Not as fun though, nor as beautifully simple. I salute you.   

       *And that in short, was Jaques Cousteau's dream for the ultimate SCUBA system, but I guess he never found anyone willing to actually try it.
Madcat, Oct 28 2003

       Wouldn't this get in the way of absorbing nutrients from food and disposing of the remainder?   

       Also, I don't see why a breathing liquid is necessary. Just take a long, flexible tube with the end open, stick that all the way up the intestines, and pump air into it. Be careful not to cause air embolism.
notexactly, Nov 08 2018

       // take a long, flexible tube //   

       What you choose to do in the privacy of your own home is your choice, but there's no need to share that sort of information. It's not big, and it's not clever.
8th of 7, Nov 08 2018

       I was surprised to find* that the surface area of the intestines is actually several times that of the lungs, so this idea is not [quite] as insane as it sounds. The main problem is going to be getting sufficient oxygenated fluid through the intestines, though. Normal breathing puts a few litres of air per minute through the lungs, and you're going to have to match that, depending on the oxygen capacity of your fluorocarbon liquid. Come to think of it, though, why use fluorocarbon liquid? Just pump air through. You might need to humidify it, but air would do the job just fine.   

       [*through the internet, not by personal testing].
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 08 2018

       // Just pump air through. //   

       If you've reached the state where you need this sort of treatment, why not use humidified oxygen ? Then you only need 20% of the volume, and most medical facilities have pure oxygen readily available anyway.
8th of 7, Nov 08 2018

       Well, for one thing, cylinders of oxygen are expensive and bulky, and generally not allowed on passenger aircraft (which, instead, have hundreds of little chemical bombs ready to go off when you pull the mask firmly toward you).
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 08 2018

       // cylinders of oxygen are expensive and bulky //   

       Cylinder rental is expensive, because the supplier has to jump through numerous safety and regulatory hoops. Steel cylinders are heavy, but available in modestly small sizes, and aluminum cylinders are used for portable medical oxygen provision - small enough for an elderly and infirm person to lug around without undue difficulty.   

       Synthetic-fibre (Glass, kevlar or carbon) wound containers deliver light weight, but are expensive and very susceptible to impact damage. They're generally only used in single-use aerospace applications. The V1 used wire-wound spherical tanks to hold the air supply for its guidance gyros.   

       Oxygen is surprisingly economical when supplied as a liquid, and the dewar containers are much less expensive than cylinders, plus the available volume of oxygen is much greater for a given container size. Of course, there are a few things to be aware of if you have liquid oxygen in the vicinity, like its hypergolic behavior when in contact with many organic materials.   

       On the plus side, many hours of cheap if potentially lethal amusement are available (until someone loses an eye).
8th of 7, Nov 08 2018


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