Indexed on: 22 Nov '05Published on: 22 Nov '05Published in: Paediatric Respiratory Reviews
The multiple-breath inert gas washout (MBW) method is used to measure the efficiency of ventilation distribution in the lungs and to measure the functional residual capacity (FRC). It involves recordings of the concentration of an inert marker gas and respiratory flow at the airway opening when a subject breathes through a sealed facemask or a mouthpiece. The MBW method is particularly useful for lung function testing in preschool children (2-6 years) because it requires only passive cooperation and tidal breathing. The lung clearance index (LCI) is the cumulative expired volume required to clear an inert gas from the lungs, divided by the FRC. The LCI has been shown to be more sensitive than spirometry or airway resistance measurements in detecting lung function abnormalities in young children with cystic fibrosis (CF). The MBW method may be useful also for screening for several other disorders that affect the peripheral airways in children.