European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 875–898 | Cite as

Open-circuit respirometry: real-time, laboratory-based systems

Invited Review

Abstract

This review explores the conceptual and technological factors integral to the development of laboratory-based, automated real-time open-circuit mixing-chamber and breath-by-breath (B × B) gas-exchange systems, together with considerations of assumptions and limitations. Advances in sensor technology, signal analysis, and digital computation led to the emergence of these technologies in the mid-20th century, at a time when investigators were beginning to recognise the interpretational advantages of nonsteady-state physiological-system interrogation in understanding the aetiology of exercise (in)tolerance in health, sport, and disease. Key milestones include the ‘Auchincloss’ description of an off-line system to estimate alveolar O2 uptake B × B during exercise. This was followed by the first descriptions of real-time automated O2 uptake and CO2 output B × B measurement by Beaver and colleagues and by Linnarsson and Lindborg, and mixing-chamber measurement by Wilmore and colleagues. Challenges to both approaches soon emerged: e.g., the influence of mixing-chamber washout kinetics on mixed-expired gas concentration determination, and B × B alignment of gas-concentration signals with respired flow. The challenging algorithmic and technical refinements required for gas-exchange estimation at the alveolar level have also been extensively explored. In conclusion, while the technology (both hardware and software) underpinning real-time automated gas-exchange measurement has progressively advanced, there are still concerns regarding accuracy especially under the challenging conditions of changing metabolic rate.

Keywords

Sensors Signal analysis Algorithms Noise Exercise Kinetics Cardiopulmonary exercise testing 

Abbreviations

B × B

Breath-by-breath

BTPS

Body temperature and pressure, saturated

CO2

Carbon dioxide

CPET

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

EELV

End-expiratory lung volume

fB

Breathing frequency

\({F_{\overline {{\text{E}}} }}{{\text{CO}}_2}\)

Mixed-expired CO2 fraction

\({F_{\overline {{\text{E}}} }}{{\text{N}}_2}\)

Mixed-expired N2 fraction

\({F_{\overline {{\text{E}}} }}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Mixed-expired O2 fraction

FETCO2

End-tidal CO2 fraction

FETO2

End-tidal O2 fraction

FICO2

Inspired CO2 fraction

FIN2

Inspired N2 fraction

FIO2

Inspired O2 fraction

FRC

Functional residual capacity

N2

Nitrogen

O2

Oxygen

PCO2

Partial pressure of CO2

PACO2

Alveolar partial pressure of CO2

pdf

Probability-density function

PH2O

Water-vapour pressure

PO2

Partial pressure of O2

PAO2

Alveolar partial pressure of O2

RER

Respiratory exchange ratio

SD

Standard deviation

STPD

Standard temperature and pressure, dry

τ

Time constant

t

Time

t1/2

Half-time

t90

10–90% response time

TD

Transport delay

V

Volume

VA

Alveolar volume

VBV

Breathing valve volume

VCO2, st

Volume of lung CO2 stores

VN2, st

Volume of lung N2 stores

VO2, st

Volume of lung O2 stores

VT

Tidal volume

\(\dot {v}\)

Instantaneous flow

\({\dot {V}_{\text{A}}}\)

Alveolar ventilation

\({\dot {V}_{\text{E}}}\)

Expired ventilation

\({\dot {V}_{\text{I}}}\)

Inspired ventilation

\({\dot {V}_{\text{E}}}/\dot {V}{\text{C}}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Ventilatory equivalent for CO2

\({\dot {V}_{\text{E}}}/\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Ventilatory equivalent for O2

\(\dot {V}{\text{C}}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Carbon dioxide output

\(\dot {V}{\text{C}}{{\text{O}}_{2A}}\)

Alveolar carbon dioxide output

\(\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_2}\)

Oxygen uptake

\(\dot {V}{{\text{O}}_{2A}}\)

Alveolar oxygen uptake

WR

Work rate

Notes

Acknowledgements

I dedicate this article to the late Brian James Whipp PhD, DSc, to whom I remain indebted for his mentorship and collaboration in our journeys through kinetic analysis in exercise.

Author contributions

The author (SAW) was solely responsible for the preparation of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Bio-Energetics Research CentreCrickhowellUK

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