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Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015 Jun;50(6):607-14. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23010. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

Validation of multiple-breath washout equipment for infants and young children.

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Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
University Children's Hospital of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
University Children's Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.



The new ATS/ERS consensus report recommends in vitro validation of multiple-breath inert gas washout (MBW) equipment based on a lung model with simulated physiologic conditions. We aimed to assess accuracy of two MBW setups for infants and young children using this model, and to compare functional residual capacity (FRC) from helium MBW (FRC(MBW)) with FRC from plethysmography (FRC(pleth)) in vivo.


The MBW setups were based on ultrasonic flow meter technology. Sulfur hexafluoride and helium were used as tracer gases. We measured FRC in vitro for specific model settings with and without carbon dioxide and calculated differences of measured to generated FRC. For in vivo evaluation, difference between FRC(MBW) and FRC(pleth) was calculated in 20 healthy children, median age 6.1 years. Coefficient of variation (CV) was calculated per FRC.


In the infant model (51 runs, FRC 80-300 ml), mean (SD) relative difference between generated and measured FRCs was 0.7 (4.7) %, median CV was 4.4% for measured FRCs. In the young child model, one setting (8 runs, FRC 400 ml) showed a relative difference of up to 13%. For the remaining FRCs (42 runs, FRC 600-1,400 ml), mean (SD) relative difference was -2.0 (3.4) %; median CV was 1.4% for measured FRCs. In vivo FRC(pleth) exceeded FRC(MBW) values by 37% on average.


Both setups measure lung volumes in the intended age group reliably and reproducibly. Characteristics of different techniques should be considered when measuring lung volumes in vivo.


in vitro; in vivo; respiratory function tests; validation studies

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