The ventilation heterogeneity (VH) is reliably assessed by the multiple-breath nitrogen washout (MBNW), which provides indices of conductive (Scond) and acinar (Sacin) VH as well as the lung clearance index (LCI), an index of global VH. VH can be alternatively measured by the poorly communicating fraction (PCF), that is, the ratio of total lung capacity by body plethysmography to alveolar volume from the single-breath lung diffusing capacity measurement.
Our objective was to assess VH by PCF and MBNW in patients with asthma and with COPD and to compare PCF and MBNW parameters in both patient groups.
We studied 35 asthmatic patients and 45 patients with COPD. Each patient performed spirometry, body plethysmography, diffusing capacity, and MBNW test.
Compared to COPD patients, asthmatics showed a significantly lesser degree of airflow obstruction and lung hyperinflation. In asthmatic patients, both PCF and LCI and Sacin values were significantly lower than the corresponding ones of COPD patients. In addition, in both patient groups, PCF showed a positive correlation with LCI (p < 0.05) and Sacin (p 30% were highly likely to have a value ≥2 of the mMRC dyspnea scale.
These results showed that PCF, a readily measure derived from routine pulmonary function testing, can provide a comprehensive measure of both global and acinar VH in asthma and in COPD patients and can be considered as a comparable tool to the well-established MBNW technique.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.