Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) used as an aid to the diagnosis and management of lung disease is receiving attention from pulmonary researchers and clinicians alike because it offers a noninvasive means to directly monitor airway inflammation. Research evidence suggests that eNO levels significantly increase in individuals with asthma before diagnosis, decrease with inhaled corticosteroid administration, and correlate with the number of eosinophils in induced sputum. These observations have been used to support an association between eNO levels and airway inflammation. This review presents an update on current opportunities regarding use of eNO in patient care, and more specifically on its potential usage for asthma diagnosis and monitoring. The review will also discuss factors that may complicate use of eNO as a diagnostic tool, including changes in disease severity, symptom response, and technical measurement issues. Regardless of the rapid, convenient, and noninvasive nature of this test, additional well-designed, long-term longitudinal studies are necessary to fully evaluate the clinical utility of eNO in asthma management. © SAGE Publications 2009.
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