05 December 2008
It is well known that the methods actually used to track thoraco-abdominal volume displacement have several limitations. This review evaluates the clinical usefulness of measuring chest wall kinematics by optoelectronic plethysmography [OEP]. OEP provides direct measurements (both absolute and its variations) of the volume of the chest wall and its compartments, according to the model of Ward and Macklem, without requiring calibration or subject cooperation. The system is non invasive and does not require a mouthpiece or nose-clip which may modify the pattern of breathing, making the subject aware of his breathing. Also, the precise assessment of compartmental changes in chest wall volumes, combined with pressure measurements, provides a detailed description of the action and control of the different respiratory muscle groups and assessment of chest wall dynamics in a number of physiological and clinical experimental conditions.