Lung clearance index: normal values, repeatability, and reproducibility in healthy children and adolescents

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2009 Dec;44(12):1180-5. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21093.


There is increasing interest in using the Multiple Breath Washout technique and the lung clearance index (LCI) for detecting early pulmonary changes, for example, in cystic fibrosis lung disease. However, there are still limited data regarding equipment specific reference ranges, repeatability and reproducibility. The aim of this prospective study was to assess within-test repeatability, short term reproducibility and long term reproducibility, and to establish normal values for the LCI in healthy children and adolescents using the sidestream ultrasonic flow sensor (EasyOne Pro, MBW Module, ndd Medical Technologies, Switzerland). Fourty-four volunteers (5.3-20.3 years) were recruited for the 1st test. Twenty-two out of 44 were measured on a 2nd test occasion after an interval of 1 hr (2nd test). Thirty-four out of 44 agreed to come back for a follow up test 6-15 months later (3rd test). Mean LCI (SD) was 6.2 (0.4), 6.3 (0.4), and 6.0 (0.4) at the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd test. The upper limit of normal was 7.0 for all subjects. Within-test repeatability was 5.1%. Short-term reproducibility (1st test vs. 2nd test) was 4.2% with a mean difference of -0.13 (95% CI -0.350; 0.087). Long-term reproducibility (1st test vs. 3rd test) was 5.1%, with a mean difference of 0.017 (95% CI -0.016; 0.348). With this low variability of the LCI for both, within and between tests, our study demonstrates reliability and robustness of equipment, protocol and analysis and the reliability of the MBW technique in general. The present data will help to interpret the effect of therapeutic interventions and interpretation of longitudinal data in patients with pulmonary diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult