Interrupter technique in infancy: Higher airway resistance and lower short-term variability in preterm versus term infants

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017 Oct;52(10):1355-1362. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23771. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Background: In preschool children, measurement of airway resistance using interrupter technique (Rint) is feasible to assess the degree of bronchial obstruction. Although some studies measured Rint in infancy, values of Rint and its variability in preterm infants are unknown. In this study, Rint and its variability was measured at infancy and compared between healthy term and preterm infants.

Methods: High quality Rint measurements in term (n = 50) and preterm (n = 48) infants were obtained at postmenstrual age of 42-50 weeks in two study centers in Switzerland. Intra-measurement variability of Rint in one measurement and inter-measurement variability between two subsequent measurements was assessed by coefficient of variation (CV).

Results: Mean Rint in term infants was 4.2 ± (SD; 1.9) kPa · s · L-1 and in preterm infants was 5.6 ± (2.8) kPa · s · L-1 . Mean CV in term infants was 29.6 ± (14.9)% and in preterm infants was 20.2 ± (8.4)%. Rint was significantly lower (95%CI -2.31 to -0.38; P = 0.007) and CV significantly higher (95%CI 4.53-14.3; P < 0.001) in term compared to preterm infants. There were no differences in mean Rint and mean CV between the first and the second measurement obtained in a subgroup of term (n = 24, 48%) and preterm (n = 22, 45%) infants.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that differences in airway mechanics between term and preterm infants can be assessed with the interrupter technique during early infancy. Before clinical application of Rint measurements in this age group, reasons underlying the variability of measurements should be further investigated.

Keywords: Rint; infant; interrupter technique; preterm; variability.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis*
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Airway Resistance*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Switzerland