Oscillatory mechanics: principles and clinical applications

  • U. Lucangelo
Part of the Topics in Anaesthesia and Critical Care book series (TIACC)


The forced oscillation technique (FOT) was first used in 1956 by Du Bois et al. [1] to measure the impedance of the respiratory system (Zrs). They resorted to an especially designed piston pump which generated a sinusoidal pressure wave at the mouth of the subject during a short period of voluntary apnoea. The respiratory system reacted to this stimulation with a sinusoidal isofrequency airflow wave. The characteristics of the wave depended solely on the mechanical properties of the respiratory system, i.e. on its impedance, impedance being defined as the ratio between externally imposed pressure oscillation and induced airflow variation. The authors also stimulated the respiratory system with a sequence of variable frequency waves in order to show that Zrs was frequency-dependent. This obviously required repeated periods of apnoea, and therefore the procedure was particularly slow and ill-fitted for clinical application. Moreover, the analysis of results was particularly difficult because of the complex mathematical calculations involved, and this further limited the diffusion of FOT. Today, calculation problems are solved by computers, which can also be used as sinusoidal wave generators, in which case, the respiratory system is stimulated by a single complex signal comprising different sinusoidal waves at varying frequencies.


Respiratory System Voltage Drop Pythagorean Theorem Forced Oscillation Technique Respiratory Impedance 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano 1999

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  • U. Lucangelo

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