Techniques of assessing small airways dysfunction

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Title: Techniques of assessing small airways dysfunction
Authors: McNulty, W
Usmani, OS
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The small airways are defined as those less than 2 mm in diameter. They are a major site of pathology in many lung diseases, not least chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. The small airways are frequently involved early in the course of these diseases, with significant pathology demonstrable often before the onset of symptoms or changes in spirometry and imaging. Despite their importance, they have proven relatively difficult to study. This is in part due to their relative inaccessibility to biopsy and their small size which makes their imaging difficult. Traditional lung function tests may only become abnormal once there is a significant burden of disease within them. This has led to the term ‘the quiet zone’ of the lung. In recent years, more specialised tests have been developed which may detect these changes earlier, perhaps offering the possibility of earlier diagnosis and intervention. These tests are now moving from the realms of clinical research laboratories into routine clinical practice and are increasingly useful in the diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory diseases. This article gives an overview of small airways physiology and some of the routine and more advanced tests of airway function.
Issue Date: 17-Oct-2014
Date of Acceptance: 11-Sep-2014
ISSN: 2001-8525
Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
Journal / Book Title: European Clinical Respiratory Journal
Volume: 1
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
Keywords: asthma
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
impulse oscillometry
lung function
multiple breath nitrogen washout
small airways
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 25898
Appears in Collections:National Heart and Lung Institute
Airway Disease
Faculty of Medicine

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