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Monday 01 November 1999

Use of pocket-sized turbine spirometer in monitoring exercise-induced bronchospasm and bronchodilator responses in children.

By: Kannisto S, Vanninen E, Remes K, Korppi M.

Pediatr Allergy Immunol 1999 Nov;10(4):266-71

For field studies of asthma, portable hand-held pulmonary function testing devices are required. Other than for peak flow measurements, little has been done to validate their use in children. Fifty children aged 5-15 years having asthma symptoms were examined using an exercise challenge (8 min free running outdoors) and a bronchodilation test (salbutamol inhalation at a dose of 0.15 mg/kg). Pulmonary function was measured with a turbine spirometer, with a Wright peak flow meter (WPEF) and with a flow-volume spirometer (FVS). A fall of 15% or more in peak expiratory flow associated with wheezing or cough was considered diagnostic for bronchial hyper-responsiveness to exercise (BHRE). A rise of 15% or more from baseline in peak expiratory flow after salbutamol inhalation was considered as a positive bronchodilator response (BDR). BHRE was present in 16 children (32%). Using the limit of a 15% or greater fall in FEV1, turbine spirometry identified 12 as BHRE-positive and no additional cases, giving a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 100%. The turbine spirometer showed lower FEV1 values than the FVS, the difference increasing with airway obstruction. BDR was positive in eight children (16%). Using the limit of a 10% or greater rise in FEV1, turbine spirometry was positive in six cases. FEV1 measured by turbine spirometry could not be used interchangeably with conventional FVS. However, the turbine spirometer offers the possibility to measure FEV1 repeatedly in field conditions, such as during exercise challenges outdoors.

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