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Respir Med. 2012 Aug;106(8):1116-23. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2012.04.010. Epub 2012 May 20.

Impulse oscillometry may be of value in detecting early manifestations of COPD.

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Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine Unit, Department of Clinical Sciences, Malmö, Lund University, Sweden.



Spirometry is used to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Impulse oscillometry system (IOS) allows determination of respiratory impedance indices, which might be of potential value in early COPD, although previous experience is limited. We examined pulmonary resistance and reactance measured by IOS in subjects with or without self-reported chronic bronchitis or emphysema or COPD (Q+ or Q-) and subjects with or without COPD diagnosed according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) criteria (G+ or G-).


From a previous population-based study 450 subjects were examined with spirometry and IOS and answered a questionnaire on respiratory symptoms and diseases.


Seventy-seven subjects were Q+, of whom 34 also were G+. Q+/G- subjects (n = 43) reported respiratory symptoms more frequently (35-40% vs 8-14%) but had higher FEV(1) (100% vs 87%) than Q-/G+ subjects (n = 90), p < 0.05 for both comparisons. Q+ subjects had higher pulmonary resistance and lower pulmonary reactance than Q- subjects (p < 0.01 for all comparisons). The same pattern was seen both in G+ subjects ((Q+/Q-) R5 0.39/0.32, R5-R20 0.10/0.07, X5 0.13/0.09, AX 0.55/0.27, p < 0.05 for all) and G- subjects ((Q+/Q-) R5 0.35/0.29, R5-R20 0.08/0.06, X5 0.10/0.08, AX 0.31/0.19 p < 0.05 for all) except for R20 (adjusted for gender and age).


Self-reported chronic bronchitis or emphysema or COPD was associated with higher pulmonary resistance and lower pulmonary reactance measured by IOS, both among subjects with and without COPD according to GOLD criteria. IOS may have the potential to detect pathology associated with COPD earlier than spirometry.

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