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Eur Respir J. 1997 Dec;10(12):2704-10.

The birth and development of the forced expiratory manoeuvre: a tribute to Robert Tiffeneau (1910-1961).

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  • Dept of Respiratory Diseases, Hôpital Erasme, Brussels, Belgium.


The forced expiratory manoeuvre was first described by Tiffeneau and Pinelli working in Paris (France), in December 1947, who proposed measurement of the "pulmonary capacity usable on exercise" (capacité pulmonaire utilisable à l'effort) (CPUE), the maximal volume expelled in one second after a deep inspiration. It was intended to replace the measurement of the maximum breathing capacity, a difficult and tiring manoeuvre. A similar approach was later followed in the USA by Gaensler, who proposed the "timed vital capacity" in 1951. The name CPUE was changed to "volume expiratoire maximum seconde" (VEMS) by a group of European experts, who met in Paris on February 13, 1954, whereas the expression "forced expiratory volume" was adopted by the British Thoracic Society in 1957. Despite numerous attempts to examine the forced expiration in a different manner, the VEMS and/or forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) remain, after 50 yrs the main variables used daily by the respiratory physician. Although primarily a pharmacologist, Robert Tiffeneau (1910-1961) undoubtedly deserves to figure among the pioneers of respiratory medicine.

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