We have previously produced evidence that, in patients with obstructive lung disease, compliance of extrathoracic airways is responsible for lack of mouth-to-alveolar pressure equilibration during respiratory efforts against a closed airway. The flow interruption method for measuring respiratory resistance (Rint) is potentially faced with the same problems. We reassessed the merits of the interruption technique by rendering the extrathoracic airways more rigid and by using a rapid shutter. We measured airway resistance (Raw) with whole body plethysmography during panting (at 2 Hz) and Rint during quiet breathing. Rint and Raw were expressed as specific airway (sGaw) and interruptive conductance (sGint), respectively. In nine healthy subjects (cheeks supported), sGint (0.140 +/- 0.050 s-1.cmH2O-1) was lower (P less than 0.02) than sGaw (0.182 +/- 0.043 s-1.cmH2O-1). By contrast, in 12 patients with severe obstructive lung disease (forced expiratory volume in 1 s/vital capacity = 41.0 +/- 19.8%), sGint (0.058 +/- 0.012 s-1.cmH2O-1) was higher (P less than 0.05) than sGaw (0.047 +/- 0.007 s-1.cmH2O-1), when the cheeks were supported. When the mouth floor was also supported, average values of sGaw (0.048 +/- 0.008 s-1.cmH2O-1) and sGint (0.049 +/- 0.014 s-1.cmH2O-1) became similar. In conclusion, we confirm previous findings in healthy subjects of higher values of Rint, with respect to Raw, probably because of differences in glottis opening between quiet breathing and panting. In airflow obstruction, supporting both the cheeks and the mouth floor decreased sGint, which became similar to sGaw.
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