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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1984 May-Jun;8(3):317-20.

Human gradient-layer calorimeter: development of an accurate and practical instrument for clinical studies.


A whole body gradient-layer calorimeter was designed for thermophysiologic studies in hospitalized patients. The instrument was assembled in a room adjoining a metabolic ward. The patient lies recumbent on a stretcher which is wheeled into the calorimeter on tracks. Once inside, the patient's head extends through one wall into a clear plastic canopy. The canopy is partially open on one side and is the entry point for fresh air into this open-circuit system. Heat flux transducers in the calorimeter walls, a thermopile in the exit air stream, and a platemeter in conjunction with wet and dry bulb thermometers allow measurement of total, wet, and dry heat losses from the subject. All calorimeter output signals are routed to a microcomputer system which processes the data and provides real-time output of results. A mannequin heat source is used to calibrate the gradient layer. Testing with a variety of wet/dry heat sources indicate total, wet, and dry heat measurements are accurate to within 2-3%. A typical study of resting energy expenditure requires 1 hr, and protocols of up to 6 hr are well tolerated. The calorimeter has proven to be reliable, accurate, and easy to operate. These qualities, combined with good patient tolerance, make it ideal for metabolic studies.

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