Optoelectronic Plethysmography in Clinical Practice and Research: A Review

Respiration. 2017;93(5):339-354. doi: 10.1159/000462916. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Background: Optoelectronic plethysmography (OEP) is a non-invasive motion capture method to measure chest wall movements and estimate lung volumes.

Objectives: To provide an overview of the clinical findings and research applications of OEP in the assessment of breathing mechanics across populations of healthy and diseased individuals.

Methods: A bibliographic research was performed with the terms "opto-electronic plethysmography," "optoelectronic plethysmography," and "optoelectronic plethysmograph" in 50 digital library and bibliographic search databases resulting in the selection of 170 studies.

Results: OEP has been extensively employed in studies looking at chest wall kinematics and volume changes in chest wall compartments in healthy subjects in relation to age, gender, weight, posture, and different physiological conditions. In infants, OEP has been demonstrated to be a tool to assess disease severity and the response to pharmacological interventions. In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, OEP has been used to test if patients can dynamically hyperinflate or deflate their lungs during exercise. In neuromuscular patients, respiratory muscle strength and chest kinematics have been analyzed. A widespread application of OEP is in tailoring post-operative pulmonary rehabilitation as well as in monitoring volume increases and muscle contributions during exercise.

Conclusions: OEP is an accurate and validated method of measuring lung volumes and chest wall movements. OEP is an appropriate alternative method to monitor and analyze respiratory patterns in children, adults, and patients with respiratory diseases. OEP may be used in the future to contribute to improvements in the therapeutic strategies for respiratory conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Lung Volume Measurements / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Plethysmography, Impedance*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis