The reproducibility and responsiveness of the lung clearance index in bronchiectasis.

Lung clearance index (LCI) is a potential clinical outcome marker in bronchiectasis. Its responsiveness to therapeutic intervention has not been determined. This study evaluates its responsiveness to a session of physiotherapy and intravenous antibiotic treatment of an exacerbation.32 stable and 32 exacerbating bronchiectasis patients and 26 healthy controls were recruited. Patients had LCI and lung function performed before and after physiotherapy on two separate occasions in the stable patients and at the beginning and end of an intravenous antibiotic course in the exacerbating patients.LCI was reproducible between visits in 25 stable patients, with an intraclass correlation of 0.978 (0.948, 0.991; p<0.001). There was no significant difference in LCI (mean±sd) between stable 11.91±3.39 and exacerbating patients 12.76±3.47, but LCI was significantly higher in both bronchiectasis groups compared with healthy controls (7.36±0.99) (p<0.001).

Forced expiratory volume in 1 s improved after physiotherapy, as did alveolar volume after intravenous antibiotics, but LCI did not change significantly.LCI is reproducible in stable bronchiectasis but unlike conventional lung function tests, is unresponsive to two short-term interventions and hence is unlikely to be a useful clinical tool for short-term acute assessment in these patients. Further evaluation is required to establish its role in milder disease and in the evaluation of long-term interventions.

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