Evaluation of a symmetrically disposed Pitot tube flowmeter for measuring gas flow during exercise

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1994 Dec;77(6):2659-65. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1994.77.6.2659.


We evaluated the effect of airflow and gas composition on the linearity of measurement of airflow by a new disposable flowmeter. The flowmeter is based on the principle of differential pressure measurement across two symmetrically disposed Pitot tubes. Nonlinearities arising from the pressure-to-airflow relationship and sensitivity to changes in gas density were linearized with appropriate software and monitoring of the gas composition. With room air used as the respired gas, the measured tidal volume from a piston pump assembly was consistently within 1-2% of the target tidal volume for each of five flowmeters tested across physiological ranges of flow. Changing gas densities by varying concentrations of O2, CO2, and N2 led to errors in tidal volume measurement that ranged up to 6-8%. However, because the errors were predictable, they were corrected by software to within 0.6% of the target volume. Measurement of minute ventilation during exercise was within 1-2% of that determined from bag collections. We conclude that this type of flowmeter can accurately measure exercise minute ventilation and has advantages over some other flowmeters because of its ruggedness, reproducibility, and ease of sterilization or replacement compared with other flowmeters.

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Exercise Test
  • Gases / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rheology*
  • Tidal Volume


  • Gases