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Logo of bmcpmBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Pulmonary Medicine
 
BMC Pulm Med. 2012; 12: 8.
Published online 2012 March 16. doi:  10.1186/1471-2466-12-8
PMCID: PMC3359201

Detection of air trapping in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by low frequency ultrasound

Abstract

Background

Spirometry is regarded as the gold standard for the diagnosis of COPD, yet the condition is widely underdiagnosed. Therefore, additional screening methods that are easy to perform and to interpret are needed. Recently, we demonstrated that low frequency ultrasound (LFU) may be helpful for monitoring lung diseases. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether LFU can be used to detect air trapping in COPD. In addition, we evaluated the ability of LFU to detect the effects of short-acting bronchodilator medication.

Methods

Seventeen patients with COPD and 9 healthy subjects were examined by body plethysmography and LFU. Ultrasound frequencies ranging from 1 to 40 kHz were transmitted to the sternum and received at the back during inspiration and expiration. The high pass frequency was determined from the inspiratory and the expiratory signals and their difference termed ΔF. Measurements were repeated after inhalation of salbutamol.

Results

We found significant differences in ΔF between COPD subjects and healthy subjects. These differences were already significant at GOLD stage 1 and increased with the severity of COPD. Sensitivity for detection of GOLD stage 1 was 83% and for GOLD stages worse than 1 it was 91%. Bronchodilator effects could not be detected reliably.

Conclusions

We conclude that low frequency ultrasound is cost-effective, easy to perform and suitable for detecting air trapping. It might be useful in screening for COPD.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01080924

Keywords: Bronchodilation, Pulmonary function test, Diagnosis, GOLD

Articles from BMC Pulmonary Medicine are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central