Functional residual capacity in normal neonates and children up to 5 years of age determined by a N2 washout method

Pediatr Res. 1986 Jul;20(7):668-71. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198607000-00018.


Functional residual capacity (FRC) was determined in 50 infants by a simplified N2 washout method. Fourteen infants were preterm, four full-term newborns and the rest were 1 month to 5 yr of age. Weight ranged from 1.19 to 25.8 kg. The method gave well reproducible values with a mean coefficient of variation of 3.9%. The FRC values are equally well correlated to weight and length (r = 0.98). The correlation with weight is linear, intercepting the x axis (FRC = 0) at a weight of 480 g, the one with length is best described by a power curve. The course of the regression lines reflects the observation that FRC per kg weight or per cm length is lower in neonates than in larger infants. The FRC measurements are in the same range as values obtained by other investigators using the N2 washout or He-dilution techniques. The values are significantly smaller than thoracic gas volume measurements obtained by plethysmography. This difference may be due to air trapping or to possible methodological problems with the plethysmographic technique. The data demonstrate that FRC can be measured easily and accurately in preterm and older infants using a N2 washout technique.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Functional Residual Capacity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Lung Volume Measurements*