Impaired gas mixing and low lung volume in preterm infants with mild chronic lung disease

Pediatr Res. 1998 Apr;43(4 Pt 1):536-41. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199804000-00017.


The aim of this study was to assess the possible role of gas mixing inefficiency in spontaneously breathing infants with mild chronic lung disease (CLD) of prematurity in relation to changes in other functional parameters. A simple bedside technique for recording and analysis of multiple breath nitrogen washout curves was applied together with occlusion mechanics. Fifteen preterm infants with mild or moderately severe CLD were studied at a mean postconceptional age of 35 wk, together with 15 healthy preterm infants at the same maturity. All infants breathed spontaneously, and the test was performed by a continuous bypass flow system, connected to a face mask, a pneumotachograph, and a nitrogen meter. The results showed impaired gas mixing with moment ratios above the 95th percentile of the normal group in 11/15 infants with CLD. Functional residual capacity (FRC) was low in 13/15 infants, but specific compliance and resistance of the respiratory system did not differ between the groups. As FRC and moment ratios were not correlated, it is suggested that they may reflect different aspects of the pathophysiology in CLD. It is concluded that low FRC and disturbed gas mixing are characteristic disturbances in CLD at different degrees of severity. The multiple breath nitrogen washout test, followed by moment analysis of end-tidal nitrogen concentrations, is a simple and sensitive method for detection of these disturbances and for monitoring purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / physiopathology*
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intermittent Positive-Pressure Ventilation
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics


  • Nitrogen