Single breath counting in the assessment of pulmonary function

Ann Emerg Med. 1994 Aug;24(2):256-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(94)70138-5.


Study objectives: To assess the correlation of single breath counting (SBC) and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) to forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1).

Design: Prospective comparison of pulmonary function measurements.

Setting: University hospital pulmonary function test (PFT) laboratory.

Type of participants: Consenting patients scheduled to have PFTs May 1, 1992, through November 1, 1992.

Interventions: SBC was measured by asking patients to take a deep breath and count as far as possible in their normal speaking voice without taking another breath. Counting was timed to a metronome set at 2 counts per second. A hand-held peak flowmeter was then used to measure PEFR. Standard PFTs then were performed.

Measurements and main results: Twenty-two patients were enrolled. The correlation of SBC to FEV1 (r = .68) was slightly better than of PEFR to FEV1 (r = .63). SBC was also found to correlate well with PEFR (r = .68).

Conclusion: SBC is a reasonable alternative to PEFR. Further investigation in an emergency department setting is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods*
  • Speech
  • Spirometry