Sensitivity of spirometric measurements to detect airway obstruction in infants

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2003 May 1;167(9):1283-6. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200204-339OC. Epub 2003 Feb 13.


We evaluated the ability of forced expiratory flow volume curves from raised lung volumes to assess airway function among infants with differing severities of respiratory symptoms. Group 1 (n = 33) had previous respiratory symptoms but were currently asymptomatic; group 2 (n = 36) was symptomatic at the time of evaluation. As a control group, we used our previously published sample of 155 healthy infants. Flow volume curves were quantified by FVC, FEF50, FEF75, FEF25-75, FEV0.5, and FEV0.5/FVC, which were expressed as Z scores. All variables except FVC had Z scores that were significantly less than zero and distinguished groups 1 and 2 with progressively lower Z scores. The mean Z scores of the flow variables (FEF50%, FEF75%, and FEF25-75%) were more negative than the Z scores for the timed expired volumes (FEV0.5 or FEV0.5/FVC) for both groups. In general, measures of flow identified a greater number of infants with abnormal lung function than measures of timed volume; FEF50 had the highest performance in detecting abnormal lung function. In summary, forced expiratory maneuvers obtained by the raised volume rapid compression technique can discriminate among groups of infants with differing severity of respiratory symptoms, and measures of forced expiratory flows were better than timed expiratory volume in detecting abnormal airway function.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Airway Obstruction / classification
  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis*
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maximal Midexpiratory Flow Rate
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spirometry / methods*
  • Spirometry / standards
  • Vital Capacity