Background: Lung clearance index (LCI), a marker of ventilation inhomogeneity, is elevated early in children with cystic fibrosis (CF). However, in infants with CF, LCI values are found to be normal, although structural lung abnormalities are often detectable. We hypothesized that this discrepancy is due to inadequate algorithms of the available software package.
Aim: Our aim was to challenge the validity of these software algorithms.
Methods: We compared multiple breath washout (MBW) results of current software algorithms (automatic modus) to refined algorithms (manual modus) in 17 asymptomatic infants with CF, and 24 matched healthy term-born infants. The main difference between these two analysis methods lies in the calculation of the molar mass differences that the system uses to define the completion of the measurement.
Results: In infants with CF the refined manual modus revealed clearly elevated LCI above 9 in 8 out of 35 measurements (23%), all showing LCI values below 8.3 using the automatic modus (paired t-test comparing the means, P < 0.001). Healthy infants showed normal LCI values using both analysis methods (n = 47, paired t-test, P = 0.79). The most relevant reason for false normal LCI values in infants with CF using the automatic modus was the incorrect recognition of the end-of-test too early during the washout.
Conclusion: We recommend the use of the manual modus for the analysis of MBW outcomes in infants in order to obtain more accurate results. This will allow appropriate use of infant lung function results for clinical and scientific purposes.
Keywords: cystic fibrosis; infant pulmonary function; multiple breath washout; ultrasonic flowmeter.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.