Airwave Oscillometry in Asthma
Are additional diagnostics the new norm in asthma?
At a recent appointment, the RT’s and scientists that work in the clinic and research were giddy with excitement about a new device that they are using in the clinic. I am always up for the adventure of trying something new. Interestingly, the device is new to the clinic but it was part of the measurements that were gained in a study that I participated in that looked at the use of MRI to guide asthma research.
So what was this fancy device, it is an Airwave Oscillometry System (AOS) which is considered to be a part of the future of measuring airway function. Measurements are taken during tidal breathing and with without patient effort.1 The device that I used had a very similar mouthpiece to the one that is used for spirometry. The part that I felt was the most awkward is that the device is held for you, while it takes its measurements. It is painless and requires very minimal effort which is great, no breath gymnastics or timed maneuvers.
What does airwave oscillometry measure?
AOS asses both large and small airway function. The device adds oscillatory wave (sound waves) to the regular, quiet breathing. The measurements are taken during 20 seconds cycles that are repeated three times. The Teemoflo provides curves of Resistance (R) and Reactance (X) as well as parameters reflecting large and small airway function.1 The science behind this is finding correlations in the analysis respiratory resistance and reactance.2 There have been some supportive studies, one in children that demonstrated that FOT has shown unique trends in controlled vs uncontrolled asthma in children.3 There are also reports that this analysis is helping to differentiate between asthma and COPD.4
What and where is the data pointing us to?
While this technology is not yet standard of care. Scientists are working on creating more automated methods of diagnosis through algorithms that can be used for diagnosing, asthma, COPD and help clinicians to categorize and treat these diseases.4
I have no idea when this technology may be coming to a clinic near you or when it might be more refined, however, I think the future is bright. I am all in for making getting lung function data more patients friendly and less invasive. It was understanding that it was going to take some for physicians to get to get up to speed on the technology and the interpretation of the results, in the interim if this technology can be further developed and the many heavy patient efforts focused test can be reduced, I believe this would be a win-win all the way around. Has anyone seen this in their local clinic or research center?
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