Mouth and nasal inspiratory pressure: learning effect and reproducibility in healthy adults

Respiration. 2010;80(5):379-86. doi: 10.1159/000254378. Epub 2009 Oct 29.


Background: Inspiratory muscle strength measurements have become a cornerstone in monitoring neuromuscular disorders. Usually, sniff nasal inspiratory pressure (SNIP) and maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) are performed. To our knowledge the session-to-session learning effect has rarely been evaluated for MIP performance and has never been done for SNIP performance.

Objectives: We hypothesized that the sniff manoeuvre was natural and did not need to be learned, whereas the Muller manoeuvre, used for MIP measurement, was an isometric contraction which needed to be learned because it is rarely performed in real life conditions. This hypothesis suggests that from the first session and continuing through a subsequent one, the maximal SNIP value and the number of sniff trials necessary to attain it are more reproducible than the maximal MIP value and the number of Muller manoeuvre trials necessary to attain it.

Methods: Seventy-one healthy subjects were included. SNIP and MIP manoeuvres were repeated 12 and 6 times, respectively, per week during 2 sessions a week apart.

Results: We observed a session effect on MIP but not on SNIP. Maximal value for MIP was higher during the second session, whereas SNIP maximal value did not increase during the second session. The number of trials needed to obtain the maximal value for MIP was lower during the second session whereas it was not different for SNIP.

Conclusions: SNIP is less sensitive to a learning effect than is MIP. It requires only a routine warm-up. We suggest that SNIP is preferable to MIP for repeated measurement of inspiratory muscle performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation / physiology*
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Mouth / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Nose / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology