Study objective: Estimating lung volume using inspiratory capacity (IC) maneuvers is a useful way of tracking dynamic hyperinflation. An understanding of the repeatability of the IC in a clinical setting is important when evaluating an individual’s response to a therapeutic intervention that might influence lung volume. This is the first study to determine the repeatability of serial IC measurements of patients with severe COPD undergoing incremental exercise testing in a clinical setting.
Subjects and methods: Ten patients with severe COPD, inexperienced in exercise testing, cycled with power increased until they reached symptom limitation. Flow was measured at the mouth using a pneumotachograph. IC maneuvers were performed at 1-min to 3-min intervals. Subjects repeated the exercise test 2 days later. Three methods of calculating IC from flow have been described previously. To determine which method provided the best repeatability, we calculated the following: (1) IC calculated by the integration of inspired flow from the start to the end of the IC maneuver (ICinsp); (2) IC calculated from the difference between the drift-corrected peak inspiratory volume (total lung capacity [TLC]) and the drift-corrected end-expiratory lung volume (EELV) of the six breaths that preceded the IC prompt (ICreg); and (3) IC calculated, after correction of the expiratory part of the signal, as the difference between the mean EELV of the six breaths that preceded the IC prompt and the peak inspiratory volume (ICratio). Each individual’s IC response was expressed as a function of exercise time and of ventilation.
Results: There was a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in the expired volume of the breath before the IC maneuver (0.11 ± 0.26 L) [mean ± SD]. ICinsp (1.78 ± 0.88 L) was significantly less than the IC calculated using the other two methods (ICreg, 1.88 ± 0.89 L; ICratio, 1.86 ± 0.87 L). ICratio improved the repeatability of the serial IC measures by as much as 60% over ICinsp and ICreg.
Conclusion: Calculating IC as the difference between EELV and TLC was unaffected by unsatisfactory technique, such as a change in breathing pattern immediately before the maneuver. Adjusting expiratory flow based on premaneuver inspiratory to expiratory volume ratio before estimating EELV improved the repeatability coefficient of the IC.