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BACKGROUND: The Bohr method is a technique to determine airways deadspace using a tracer gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen. It is based on the assumption that the inspired concentration of the tracer gas is constant throughout inspiration. However, in some lung function measurement techniques where inspired concentration of the tracer gas may be required to vary, or where rapid injection of the tracer gas is made in real time, uniform inspired concentration is difficult or impossible to achieve, which leads to inaccurate estimation of deadspace using the Bohr equation. One such lung function measurement technique is the inspired sinewave technique. OBJECTIVE: In this paper, we proposed a modification of the Bohr method, relaxing the requirement of absolute uniformity of tracer concentration in the inspired breath. METHOD: The new method used integration of flow and concentration. A computer algorithm sought an appropriate value of deadspace to satisfy the mass balance equation for each breath. A modern gas mixing apparatus with rapid mass flow controllers was used to verify the procedure. RESULT: Experiments on a tidally ventilated bench lung showed that the new method estimated dead space within 10% of the actual values whereas the traditional Bohr deadspace gave more than 50% error. CONCLUSION: The new method improved the accuracy of deadspace estimation when the inspired concentration is not uniform. This improvement would lead to more accurate diagnosis and more accurate estimations of other lung parameters such as functional residual capacity and pulmonary blood flow.

Original publication




Journal article


Physiol Meas

Publication Date





N107 - N117


Carbon Dioxide, Humans, Oxygen, Respiratory Function Tests, Respiratory Physiological Phenomena