Calculation of lung volume in newborn infants by means of a computer-assisted nitrogen washout method

Pediatr Res. 1984 Nov;18(11):1160-4. doi: 10.1203/00006450-198411000-00021.


A clinically adapted method for the calculation of the functional residual capacity in newborn infants has been developed. The method is based on a multiple breath nitrogen washout test, during which the ventilatory air flow and the nitrogen concentration signals are sampled by a minicomputer, which also performs the calculations. The ventilatory air flow is measured by a pneumotachometer connected to a face-out volume displacement body plethysmograph, and the nitrogen concentration by a nitrogen analyzer. The functional residual capacity volume is calculated from the sampled signals by adding the expired nitrogen volumes during each expiration, and finally dividing this sum by the initial alveolar nitrogen concentration. Before the calculations, the sampled signals are adjusted regarding nitrogen analyzer delay and plethysmograph characteristics. The method presented is designed to minimize the test equipment influence on the baby's respiration and also to inhibit the necessity of pneumotachometer compensations normally connected with washout methods. Furthermore, the calculated breath-by-breath values of end-expiratory nitrogen concentration, nitrogen volume, inspired and expired tidal volume, are stored on disk for further analysis and resimulation of the test. The method has been tested on a mechanical lung model and on washouts from healthy newborn infants. The model tests indicate that the accuracy and the reproducibility of the method are good, and the results from the infants are in good agreement with previously obtained results.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computers
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Gases
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Volume Measurements / instrumentation
  • Lung Volume Measurements / methods*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitrogen*
  • Plethysmography, Whole Body / instrumentation
  • Plethysmography, Whole Body / methods*
  • Thorax


  • Gases
  • Nitrogen