Infant multiple breath washout using a new commercially available device: Ready to replace the previous setup?

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2018 May;53(5):628-635. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23959. Epub 2018 Feb 8.


Introduction: Multiple breath washout (MBW) is a sensitive test to measure lung volumes and ventilation inhomogeneity from infancy on. The commonly used setup for infant MBW, based on ultrasonic flowmeter, requires extensive signal processing, which may reduce robustness. A new setup may overcome some previous limitations but formal validation is lacking.

Aim: We assessed the feasibility of infant MBW testing with the new setup and compared functional residual capacity (FRC) values of the old and the new setup in vivo and in vitro.

Methods: We performed MBW in four healthy infants and four infants with cystic fibrosis, as well as in a Plexiglas lung simulator using realistic lung volumes and breathing patterns, with the new (Exhalyzer D, Spiroware 3.2.0, Ecomedics) and the old setup (Exhalyzer D, WBreath 3.18.0, ndd) in random sequence.

Results: The technical feasibility of MBW with the new device-setup was 100%. Intra-subject variability in FRC was low in both setups, but differences in FRC between the setups were considerable (mean relative difference 39.7%, range 18.9; 65.7, P = 0.008). Corrections of software settings decreased FRC differences (14.0%, -6.4; 42.3, P = 0.08). Results were confirmed in vitro.

Conclusion: MBW measurements with the new setup were feasible in infants. However, despite attempts to correct software settings, outcomes between setups were not interchangeable. Further work is needed before widespread application of the new setup can be recommended.

Keywords: functional residual capacity; infant lung function; multiple breath washout; ultrasonic flowmeter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Flowmeters
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Health
  • Lung / physiology
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / instrumentation*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Software