Background: Nasal nitric oxide (nNO) measurement is an established first line test in the work-up for primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Tidal breathing nNO (TB-nNO) measurements require minimal cooperation and are potentially useful even in young children. Hand-held NO devices are becoming increasingly widespread for asthma management. Therefore, we chose to assess whether hand-held TB-nNO measurements reliably discriminate between PCD, and Healthy Subjects (HS) and included Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients as a disease control group known to have intermediate nNO levels.
Methods: In this cross sectional, single centre, single occasion, proof-of-concept study in children and adults with PCD and CF, and in HS we compared feasibility, success rates, discriminatory capacity, repeatability and agreement between a hand-held electrochemical device equipped with a nNO software application sampling at flow rates 2 ml/s or 5 ml/s, and two stationary chemiluminescence devices, applying both tidal breathing and velum closure techniques.
Results: Measurements were done in 16 PCD patients, 21 patients with CF and 20 HS aged between 3.8 and 60.9 years. Hand-held TB-nNO showed high success rate (96.5-100%) vs. velum closure nNO techniques (70.2-89.5%). Hand-held TB-nNO sampling at flow rate 5 ml/s showed equally high discriminative power (PCD vs. HS [p<0.0001] and PCD vs. CF [p<0.0001]) and reaching close to 100% sensitivity and specificity, superior repeatability (CV% = 10%) and equal limits of agreement compared to TB-nNO by stationary devices and even compared to velum closure sampling.
Conclusion: Hand-held TB-nNO discriminates significantly between PCD, CF and HS and shows promising potential as a widespread targeted case-finding tool for PCD, although further studies are warranted before implementation.