Regional lung function determined by electrical impedance tomography during bronchodilator reversibility testing in patients with asthma

Physiol Meas. 2016 Jun;37(6):698-712. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/37/6/698. Epub 2016 May 20.


The measurement of rapid regional lung volume changes by electrical impedance tomography (EIT) could determine regional lung function in patients with obstructive lung diseases during pulmonary function testing (PFT). EIT examinations carried out before and after bronchodilator reversibility testing could detect the presence of spatial and temporal ventilation heterogeneities and analyse their changes in response to inhaled bronchodilator on the regional level. We examined seven patients suffering from chronic asthma (49 ± 19 years, mean age ± SD) using EIT at a scan rate of 33 images s(-1) during tidal breathing and PFT with forced full expiration. The patients were studied before and 5, 10 and 20 min after bronchodilator inhalation. Seven age- and sex-matched human subjects with no lung disease history served as a control study group. The spatial heterogeneity of lung function measures was quantified by the global inhomogeneity indices calculated from the pixel values of tidal volume, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), peak flow and forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of FVC as well as histograms of pixel FEV1/FVC values. Temporal heterogeneity was assessed using the pixel values of expiration times needed to exhale 75% and 90% of pixel FVC. Regional lung function was more homogeneous in the healthy subjects than in the patients with asthma. Spatial and temporal ventilation distribution improved in the patients with asthma after the bronchodilator administration as evidenced mainly by the histograms of pixel FEV1/FVC values and pixel expiration times. The examination of regional lung function using EIT enables the assessment of spatial and temporal heterogeneity of ventilation distribution during bronchodilator reversibility testing. EIT may become a new tool in PFT, allowing the estimation of the natural disease progression and therapy effects on the regional and not only global level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography / methods*


  • Bronchodilator Agents