Air-displacement plethysmography: here to stay

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2005 Nov;8(6):624-9. doi: 10.1097/01.mco.0000171127.44525.07.


Purpose of review: Air-displacement plethysmography holds promise as an alternative to more traditional body composition techniques, although our understanding of air-displacement plethysmography is less than complete. Specifically, factors that influence its validity and application in certain populations, for example children, the obese, and athletes, must be better understood. This review will summarize recent findings on the validity and precision of air-displacement plethysmography and will focus primarily on papers published since 2004, with particular attention on its use in infants.

Recent findings: The most significant recent findings in the air-displacement plethysmography literature are mechanistic in nature specifically dealing with measurement issues such as heat, moisture, clothing, and recently, inter-device variability.

Summary: It is important to recognize that air-displacement plethysmography can be a practical instrument in the evaluation of body composition in a wide range of populations. Therefore, based on the body of literature that has emerged, air-displacement plethysmography appears to be a suitable and reliable instrument in the assessment of body composition. Of particular interest is its use in pediatric and obese individuals, areas requiring further study. Research is also needed to help us better understand sources of measurement error.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Plethysmography* / methods
  • Plethysmography* / standards
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity