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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 May;118(5):875-898. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3860-9. Epub 2018 May 4.

Open-circuit respirometry: real-time, laboratory-based systems.

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Human Bio-Energetics Research Centre, Crickhowell, Wales, NP8 1AT, UK.


This review explores the conceptual and technological factors integral to the development of laboratory-based, automated real-time open-circuit mixing-chamber and breath-by-breath (B × B) gas-exchange systems, together with considerations of assumptions and limitations. Advances in sensor technology, signal analysis, and digital computation led to the emergence of these technologies in the mid-20th century, at a time when investigators were beginning to recognise the interpretational advantages of nonsteady-state physiological-system interrogation in understanding the aetiology of exercise (in)tolerance in health, sport, and disease. Key milestones include the 'Auchincloss' description of an off-line system to estimate alveolar O2 uptake B × B during exercise. This was followed by the first descriptions of real-time automated O2 uptake and CO2 output B × B measurement by Beaver and colleagues and by Linnarsson and Lindborg, and mixing-chamber measurement by Wilmore and colleagues. Challenges to both approaches soon emerged: e.g., the influence of mixing-chamber washout kinetics on mixed-expired gas concentration determination, and B × B alignment of gas-concentration signals with respired flow. The challenging algorithmic and technical refinements required for gas-exchange estimation at the alveolar level have also been extensively explored. In conclusion, while the technology (both hardware and software) underpinning real-time automated gas-exchange measurement has progressively advanced, there are still concerns regarding accuracy especially under the challenging conditions of changing metabolic rate.


Algorithms; Cardiopulmonary exercise testing; Exercise; Kinetics; Noise; Sensors; Signal analysis


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