Peak expiratory flow and the resistance of the mini-wright peak flow meter.
The purpose of this study was to examine whether the resistance of the peak flow meter influences its recordings. One hundred and twelve subjects, (healthy nonsmokers and smokers and subjects with lung diseases) performed three or more peak expiratory flow (PEF) manoeuvres through a Fleisch pneumotachograph with and without a mini-Wright peak flow meter added in random order as a resistance in series. The results were as follows. In comparison with a pneumotachograph alone, peak flow measured with an added mini-Wright meter had a smaller within-test variation, defined as the difference between the highest and second highest values of PEF in a series of blows. The mean (SE) variation was 14 (1.3) L.min-1 and 19 (1.5) L.min-1 with and without meter added, respectively. In comparison with the pneumotachograph alone, the addition of the mini-Wright meter caused PEF to be underread, especially at high flows. The difference (PEF with meter minus PEF without meter) = -0.064 (average PEF) -8 L.min-1; R2 = 0.13. The mean difference was -7.8 (1.1) %, and increased numerically for a given PEF, when maximal expiratory flow when 75% forced vital capacity remains to be exhaled (MEF75%FVC) decreased. The reproducibility criteria for repeated measurements of peak flow are more appropriately set at 30 L.min-1 than the commonly used 20 L.min-1, because a within-test variation of less than 30 L.min-1 was achieved in 76% of the subjects without PEF meter inserted and in 88% with meter inserted, with no difference between healthy untrained subjects and patients. The resistance of the peak expiratory flow meter causes less variation in recordings but reduces peak expiratory flow, especially at high values and when the peak is large as compared with the rest of the maximal expiratory flow-volume curve.