Measurement of exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) offers a non-invasive means for assessment of airway inflammation. The currently available methods are difficult to apply in preschool children. We evaluated four methods potentially applicable for eNO measurement during tidal breathing in young children. eNO was assessed during tidal breathing in 24 children, 2-7 yr old, using a facemask which separated nasal and oral airflow. Facemasks with and without a one-way valve allowing exhalation through the nose were used. Expiratory flow control was not attempted. Measurements of eNO were performed both on-line and off-line. In 11 children, 8-12 yr old, measurements were compared with the standard single breath on-line method. eNO was significantly lower applying the one-way valve in on-line and off-line measurements in comparison with measurements without the valve [4.6 and 3.9 parts per billion (ppb) vs. 6.9 ppb and 6.5 ppb]. The mean within subject coefficient of variation (CV) was significantly lower in on-line measurements with the one-way valve (9.6%) compared with the other three methods (18.8, 27.7 and 29.3% respectively). Measurements with a facemask fitted with a one-way valve yielded similar eNO levels as the standard single breath method (7.0 ppb vs. 6.9 ppb) and reproducibility (9.8% vs. 7.1%). In conclusion, reproducible measurements of eNO can be obtained without control of expiration flow using a facemask fitted with a one-way valve on the nasal compartment. The likely explanation to this is that the one-way valve reduces the admixture of nasal NO, thereby improving the reliability of eNO measurements.
Copyright 2005 Blackwell Munksgaard