Practical use of the multiple breath washout test in children: biological variability in health and disease
Sheridan, Helen Sarah
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The Multiple Breath Washout (MBW) test is increasingly being recognised as a sensitive method of detecting early small airways lung disease. Indices of MBW include lung clearance index (LCI), Scond and Sacin. Factors that affect MBW variability have not been fully established. This thesis presents five studies which examine MBW repeatability in children with and without cystic fibrosis (CF) or asthma. MBW was performed using 0.2% sulphur hexafluoride and the modified Innocor (Innovision). Testing was performed at the Clinical Research Facility of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. (1) MBW and spirometry were performed in children with and without CF (n=20 in each group), initially while sitting and then 30 minutes after assuming a supine posture. LCI was found to significantly rise on lying supine in healthy children (p<0.01) and children with CF (p=0.03). (2) Thirty two children with CF performed MBW and spirometry on four study visits, results were correlated with findings from high resolution chest computed tomography scans taken on the first visit. LCI showed the strongest correlation with extent and severity of bronchiectasis (r=0.66, p<0.01 and r=0.69, p<0.01 respectively). Variability of LCI was similar to FEV1 over the 4 visits. (3) MBW and spirometry of 66 healthy children were compared to 63 children with stable asthma; lung function of asthmatic children was related to symptoms and medication use. LCI was higher in the asthmatic group (6.7 vs 6.3, p<0.01); within the asthmatic group LCI was significantly higher if asthma was less well controlled (p=0.02). (4) Children with and without asthma (n=21 in each group) performed MBW and spirometry before and after exercise and again after salbutamol, symptom data was collected from asthmatic children. Baseline LCI was abnormal in the asthmatic group who had severe exercise induced bronchospasm during testing. (5) Asthmatic children admitted to hospital due to exacerbation performed MBW and spirometry. Mean (SD) LCI was abnormally high at 8.5 (1.7) in the nine patients recruited and returned to normal 6.7 (0.6) in three patients who attended follow up. I have presented evidence that LCI is repeatable and sensitive to early disease in CF and asthma. I have described for the first time the effects of exercise and exacerbation on MBW indices in asthmatic children. MBW is potentially a very useful tool in paediatrics; standardisation of testing and equipment may enable clinical use.