Introduction: We aimed to determine normal thresholds for positive bronchodilator responses for oscillometry in an Australian general population sample aged ≥40 years, to guide clinical interpretation. We also examined relationships between bronchodilator responses and respiratory symptoms, asthma diagnosis, smoking and baseline lung function.
Methods: Subjects recruited from Sydney, Melbourne and Busselton, Australia, underwent measurements of spirometry, resistance (R rs6 ) and reactance (X rs6 ) at 6 Hz, before and after inhalation of salbutamol 200 μg. Respiratory symptoms and/or medication use, asthma diagnosis, and smoking were recorded. Threshold bronchodilator responses were defined as the fifth percentile of decrease in R rs6 and 95th percentile increase in X rs6 in a healthy subgroup.
Results: Of 1318 participants, 1145 (570 female) were analysed. The lower threshold for ΔR rs6 was -1.38 cmH2O·s·L-1 (-30.0% or -1.42 Z-scores) and upper threshold for ΔX rs6 was 0.57 cmH2O·s·L-1 (1.36 Z-scores). Respiratory symptoms and/or medication use, asthma diagnosis, and smoking all predicted bronchodilator response, as did baseline oscillometry and spirometry. When categorised into clinically relevant groups according to those predictors, ΔX rs6 was more sensitive than spirometry in smokers without current asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ∼20% having a positive response. Using absolute or Z-score change provided similar prevalences of responsiveness, except in COPD, in which responsiveness measured by absolute change was twice that for Z-score.
Discussion: This study describes normative thresholds for bronchodilator responses in oscillometry parameters, including intra-breath parameters, as determined by absolute, relative and Z-score changes. Positive bronchodilator response by oscillometry correlated with clinical factors and baseline function, which may inform the clinical interpretation of oscillometry.