The ratio of expiratory time at tidal peak flow to total expiratory time (t(ptef)/t(e)) correlates with conventional measures of airway obstruction. It is usually assessed using a facemask and pneumotachograph system which may be poorly tolerated in young children and hence limits the usefulness of this technique. We therefore determined in young asthmatic children the accuracy of t(ptef)/t(e), using an uncalibrated respiratory inductance plethysmograph (RIP), and compared the results with those from a facemask-pneumotachograph system. We also assessed whether age influenced the agreement between measurements using the two devices. Forty-seven children aged between 1 month and 12 years were recruited: 39 were inpatients recovering from an acute wheezy episode, and 8 were recruited from the asthma clinic. All were receiving bronchodilators. Tidal breathing parameters t(ptef)/t(e), the duty cycle (t(i)/t(tot)), and respiratory rate were initially measured using the Respitrace alone and then simultaneously with both the Respitrace and the facemask-pneumotachograph system. Eight children did not tolerate the facemask, and in two others it was impossible to analyze the Respitrace trace due to artefacts. In the remaining 37 children, the reliability coefficients and coefficients of variation of the two techniques were similar. Similar values of t(i)/t(tot) and respiratory rate were obtained using the two devices. The mean t(ptef)/t(e) obtained using the Respitrace was lower than with the facemask-pneumotachograph system (P < 0.01), although this was age group-dependent (P < 0.05), as the difference was less apparent in the 1 to 2-year-old children than in other age groups. Application of the facemask-pneumotachograph system did not significantly influence the results obtained using the Respitrace. We conclude that uncalibrated respiratory inductance plethysmography can measure tidal breathing parameters as reliably as a facemask-pneumotachograph system in young asthmatic children, and is better tolerated than the pneumotachograph system. The results obtained using the two devices are not interchangeable.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.