A method is described for estimating the volume of air in the lungs by the familiar principle of mixing this air with a measured volume of oxygen, and determining the extent to which the nitrogen of the pulmonary air is diluted. By employing a scrubber to remove carbon dioxide, and by measuring the volume of gas in the extrapulmonary part of the system at the end instead of the beginning of the respiratory period, it is possible to prolong the period to as many minutes as are necessary for complete mixture of the gases, and thereby to carry out the estimation without forced breathing.
The determination can be carried out with the Roth-Benedict or Krogh spirometer, or, more economically, with the simple spirometer, shown in Fig. 1, assembled from ordinary laboratory equipment.
The method gives the same results as the hydrogen method of Van Slyke and Binger (3), and obviates the use and analysis of hydrogen. The relative advantages of the two methods are discussed above.
Dr. Ronald V. Christie has informed us that he has encountered considerable differences in the N2 content of the pulmonary air of different individuals. A gain in accuracy would therefore be made if this value were determined for each subject, and substituted for 79.1 in the calculation formulae.