Effect of breathing circuit resistance on the measurement of ventilatory function
Johns, DP and Ingram, CM and Khov, S and Rochford, PD and Walters, EH, Effect of breathing circuit resistance on the measurement of ventilatory function, Thorax, 53, (11) pp. 944-948. ISSN 0040-6376 (1998) [Refereed Article]
Background-The American Thoracic Society (ATS) has set the acceptable resistance for spirometers at less than 1.5 cm H 2 O/l/s over the flow range 0-14 l/s and for monitoring devices at less than 2.5 cm H 2 O/l/s (0-14 l/s). The aims of this study were to determine the resistance characteristics of commonly used spirometers and monitoring devices and the effect of resistance on ventilatory function. Methods-The resistance of five spirometers (Vitalograph wedge bellows, Morgan rolling seal, Stead Wells water sealed, Fleisch pneumotachograph, Lilly pneumotachograph) and three monitoring devices (Spiro 1, Ferraris, mini-Wright) was measured from the back pressure developed over a range of known flows (1.613.1 l/s). Peak expiratory flow (PEF), forced expiratory flow in one second (FEV 1 ), forced vital capacity (FVC), and mid forced expiratory flow (FEF(25-75%)) were measured on six subjects with normal lung function and 13 subjects with respiratory disorders using a pneumotachograph. Ventilatory function was then repeated with four different sized resistors (approximately 1-11 cmH 2 O/l/s) inserted between the mouthpiece and pneumotachograph. Results-All five diagnostic spirometers and two of the three monitoring devices passed the ATS upper limit for resistance. PEF, FEV 1 and FVC showed significant (p < 0.05) inverse correlations with added resistance with no significant difference between the normal and patient groups. At a resistance of 1.5 cm H 2 O/l/s the mean percentage falls (95% confidence interval) were: PEF 6.9% (5.4 to 8.3); FEV 1 1.9% (1.0 to 2.8), and FVC 1.5% (0.8 to 2.3). Conclusions-The ATS resistance specification for diagnostic spirometers appears to be appropriate. However, the specification for monitoring devices may be too conservative. PEF was found to be the most sensitive index to added resistance.