Techniques for Assessing Respiratory Function

  • W. J. Russell


The development of greater understanding of lung physiology and the improvement in measuring techniques have given the clinician great scope in evaluating respiratory disease. This has enabled thoracic physicians to make useful analyses of small and large airway conduction disorders, to assess respiratory drive, and to examine gas distribution within the lungs. For evaluation of many of the common chronic problems in respiratory medicine, the simple (three-part) model [55] is inadequate, but in the critically ill patient this model is helpful as bulk gas transport is the significant respiratory problem and few of the sophisticated techniques now common in respiratory medicine are used. Generally there is either an acute failure of ventilation from a gross mechanical cause or a failure of gas exchange within the lung. The recognition that intensive care patients in respiratory trouble have critical problems with gas transport means a different emphasis on monitoring respiratory function. Continuous or frequent estimates of CO2 and O2 status are essential. Thus devices with a high reliability and accuracy are most desirable, preferably requiring no invasion of the patient. The standard for respiratory assessment is the arterial blood gas analysis, which unfortunately is both intermittent and invasive.


Nitrous Oxide Respiratory Medicine Volume Spirometer Mixed Venous Oxygen Tension Wright Respirometer 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1983

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  • W. J. Russell

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