Methodological factors in the variability of lung volume and specific airway resistance measured by body plethysmography

Bull Eur Physiopathol Respir. 1987 Jul-Aug;23(4):323-7.


Thoracic gas volume (TGV) and specific airway resistance (sRaw) are commonly measured using pressure type and flow type body plethysmographs. Within-subject variability of the data, defined as the coefficient of variation of eight to ten measurements during the same session, was assessed with the two kinds of instruments and compared in fifteen normal subjects. The reproducibility of data obtained several days apart was also compared. All measurements were made in a 480-l body chamber, which could be used in both the pressure and the flow mode. The signals were processed digitally using three different algorithms: 1) simple linear regression (LR); 2) linear regression with drift correction achieved by adding to, or subtracting from the plethysmographic signal a term proportional to time (LRC); 3) Fourier analysis (FFT). Within-subject variability of TGV was much larger with flow than with pressure plethysmography when the signals were processed by LR (14.5 +/- 7.5 vs 6.3 +/- 3.0%; p less than 0.001), but almost the same using LRC (6.7 +/- 3.2 vs 5.4 +/- 2.7%) and FFT (6.1 +/- 2.4 vs 5.0 +/- 2.4%). For sRaw, variabilities were larger and less influenced by methodological factors. Adequate digital processing may therefore largely remedy the inherently greater variability of TGV measurements with flow plethysmographs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance*
  • Female
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plethysmography, Whole Body*
  • Respiration