Saturday, 12 January 2013

An Understanding Into The Development Of A Spirometer

By Dorothea Garner


A spirometer is an instrument that measures the volume of air in the lungs during respiration. It is very significant in that the gases entering the body can be determined and correctly measured. It is also an important apparatus in the diagnosis of respiratory conditions. It gives a clear view of the airways and the lung tissues which enables detection and diagnosis of conditions affecting the system like obstructive lung diseases or even restrictive diseases.

Currently there are many types of these apparatus that are specialized to establish different aspects of lung conditions. However these devices began long time ago in 200 A. D through the idea of a Greek doctor and philosopher called Claudius Galen who used a young boy and a human bladder. He observed that the volume of air in the bladder did not change when breathed into it. His idea was inconclusive according to his peers but it formed a foundation formed which further studies would be carried out.

Many years later a researcher called Borelli tried to measure the amount inspired in one cycle. He used water displacement as the unit to estimate volume. This idea was well accepted amongst many scientists and was borrowed to design most of the currently available types. With time more researchers have tried to refine and modify existing apparatus into more efficient equipments for diagnosis and management of lung and heart diseases.

Over the years due to the increase in use of these tools and advancement in technology, many different types of spirometers have arose each being more specialized in special circumstances. The Whole body plethysmograph is one specialized type that is best and most accurate in the measuring of lung volumes compared to all other types. It forms the standard for which other types of devices can be compared to for accuracy. Here the patient is usually put in a small enclosed space where the test is then performed.

The pneumotachometer is another type of these devices that measures flow rate of gases by use of fine mesh. This mesh is very sensitive to detect pressure difference in the lung and the outside environment thus providing a reading of the volume. It is useful especially for those patients who are in critical conditions and must breathe in fresh air in the process of the test.

There are also electronic forms of these devices that do not require moving parts or meshes but they utilize ultrasonic transducers that are able to accurately determine the rate of flow and volumes. These types are more accurate and reliable because they are automated and thus not likely to having mistakes. They also have a disposable portion of air channels that patients use and discard immediately after. This makes them very good in terms of hygiene and safe from transmission of infections.

There is a specialized types which is the best for patient who need respiratory lung support called incentive spirometers. These devices have a unique ability of supporting the pulmonary function in addition to obtaining lung volumes. Where there is need to determine the ability of a patient to breathe out properly a special type called a peak expiratory device is used.

The tilt-compensated of a spirometer is among the very latest in the market. It can be tilled to a horizontal position to accommodate the position of a patient. It is therefore better for sick people. Generally this device has improved the clinical practice and management of respiratory diseases.




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