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Pediatr Pulmonol. 2006 Nov;41(11):1095-102.

Comparison of carbon monoxide (CO) single breath pulmonary diffusing capacity with non-rebreathing, open-circuit CO pulmonary diffusing capacity in healthy children.

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  • 1Medical Staff Administration, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Galveston, Texas 77550, USA.



The standard technique for assessing pulmonary diffusing capacity of the lungs (DL) for carbon monoxide (CO) is the single breath (SB) technique. SB_DLco in children can be problematic because it requires a vital capacity >1.5 L. We have developed an open-circuit technique (OC), which uses the wash-in of CO over a series of 8-10 normal breaths that does not require rebreathing. In this study, we compared the SB_DLco against the OC_DLco.


Nineteen healthy children between 7 and 18 years performed SB_DLco and OC_DLco tests. The mean SB_DLco was significantly larger than the mean OC_DLco. The mean difference OC_DLco minus SB_ DLco was: -2.92 +/- 4.21 ml/min/mm Hg, though the difference was negatively correlated with the mean of the two (r = 0.73). The lower mean OC_DLco was in part due to lower lung volume (as measured by alveolar volume (VA)) during the maneuver. In both groups there was a positive correlation between VA and DLco, and the mean VA was -2.17 +/- 1.07 L lower using OC compared to SB. The difference was again negatively correlated with the mean (r = 0.82). The mean OC minus SB difference in DLco/VA was: 6.06 +/- 1.98 ml/min/mm Hg/L, though this difference was positively correlated with the mean, r = 0.76.


We found a good correlation between both techniques for DLco, VA, and DLco/VA. The OC offers the advantage of minimal subject cooperation, and may be preferable to use in children.

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