Regional expiratory flow limitation studied with Technegas in asthma

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Nov;91(5):2190-8. doi: 10.1152/jappl.2001.91.5.2190.


Regional expiratory flow limitation (EFL) may occur during tidal breathing without being detected by measurements of flow at the mouth. We tested this hypothesis by using Technegas to reveal sites of EFL. A first study (study 1) was undertaken to determine whether deposition of Technegas during tidal breathing reveals the occurrence of regional EFL in induced bronchoconstriction. Time-activity curves of Technegas inhaled during 12 tidal breaths were measured in four asthmatic subjects at control conditions and after exposure to inhaled methacholine at a dose sufficient to abolish expiratory flow reserve near functional residual capacity. A second study (study 2) was conducted in seven asthmatic subjects at control and after three increasing doses of methacholine to compare the pattern of Technegas deposition in the lung with the occurrence of EFL. The latter was assessed at the mouth by comparing tidal with forced expiratory flow or with the flow generated on application of a negative pressure. Study 1 documented enhanced and spotty deposition of Technegas in the central lung regions with increasing radioactivity during tidal expiration. This is consistent with increased impaction of Technegas on the airway wall downstream from the flow-limiting segment. Study 2 showed that both methods based on analysis of flow at the mouth failed to detect EFL at the time spotty deposition of Technegas occurred. We conclude that regional EFL occurs asynchronously across the lung and that methods based on mouth flow measurements are insensitive to it.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnostic imaging
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchi / diagnostic imaging
  • Bronchoconstriction / physiology*
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Middle Aged
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate / physiology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Sodium Pertechnetate Tc 99m*
  • Spirometry
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Technegas
  • Sodium Pertechnetate Tc 99m