Lung volumes in 4,774 patients with obstructive lung disease

Chest. 1999 Jan;115(1):68-74. doi: 10.1378/chest.115.1.68.


Study objectives: To determine the correlates of static lung volumes in patients with airways obstruction, and to determine if static lung volumes differ between asthma and COPD.

Patients and methods: We examined the data from all of the adult patients (mean age of 69) who were referred to a pulmonary function laboratory from January 1990 through July 1994 with an FEV1/FVC ratio of < 0.70 and tested using a body plethysmograph. Correlates were determined using regression analysis.

Measurements and results: Of the 4,774 patients observed with evidence of airways obstruction, 61% were men. Self-reported diagnoses included asthma, 19%; emphysema or COPD, 23%; chronic bronchitis, 1.5%; and alpha1-antiprotease deficiency, 0.6%. Fifty-six percent of the patients did not report a respiratory disease. The degree of hyperinflation, as determined by the residual volume (RV)/total lung capacity (TLC) ratio, or the RV % predicted (but not the TLC % predicted), was strongly associated with the degree of airways obstruction (the FEV1 % predicted). Patients with moderate to severe airways obstruction and high RV and TLC levels were more likely to have COPD than asthma. Of the 1,872 patients with a reduced vital capacity determined by spirometry testing, 87% had hyperinflation as defined by the RV/TLC, and 9.5% had a low TLC (with less severe airways obstruction).

Conclusion: In patients found to have airways obstruction by spirometry, the additional measurement of static lung volumes added little to the clinical interpretation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / etiology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Lung Volume Measurements*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plethysmography, Whole Body
  • Residual Volume / physiology
  • Total Lung Capacity / physiology
  • Vital Capacity / physiology