Vol.2, No.4, 295-299 (2010) Health
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Predicting maximum voluntary ventilation in normal
healthy individuals using indirect inspiratory muscle
strength measurements: a correlation study
Rohit Sontakke1, Mangesh Deore2, Dhara Kothari3
1Masterskill University College of Health, Cheras, Malaysia; rohitrohits@yahoo.com
2Sancheti Institute of Orthopedics, Pune, India
3Nivara Physiotherapy Center, Pune, India
Received 17 November 2009; revised 7 December 2009; accepted 15 December 2009.
Maximum Voluntary Ventilation (MVV), one of
the components of Pulmonary Function Testing
(PFT), has multiple uses. Various factors in-
cluding the inspiratory muscle strength (IMS)
influence it s magnitude. Our aim was to quantify
the IMS indirectly using an economical and non
invasive bedside assessment tool, determine its
association with MVV and then develop a pre-
dictive equation for MVV. 41 healthy non-athletic
physical therapy students participated in the
study. IMS measurement was performed with a
sphygmomanometer. Average of the three net
deflections in sphygmomanometer following
deepest possible breaths was taken as indirect
measurement of IMS in mm of Hg. MVV was
measured according to ATS guidelines using a
spirometer. Results from the data analysis re-
vealed a significant correlation between IMS
and MVV(r = 0.83, p < 0.001) and the coefficient
of determination = 0.68. So, we developed a re-
gression equation: Y = 1.9669(X) + 49.838 with
SEE: 13.02L/min and ANOVA for the equation
was (F=68.9, p < 0.001). Hence, it can be con-
cluded that a strong correlation between the
indirect IMS and MVV was established and a
predictive equation to estimate MVV was de-
veloped. This equation proved to have a high
predictive value with a small error of estimation.
This indicates that the value of the indirect IMS
measurement obtained using the sphygmoma-
nometer can be used to estimate MVV in normal
healthy individuals without the use of a con-
ventional spirometer.
Keywords: Healthy Physical Therapy Students;
Maximum Voluntary Ventilation; Inspiratory Muscle
Strength; Regressio n Equation; Sp hygmomanom eter
Evidence-based support for pulmonary rehabilitation in
the management of patients with chronic respiratory dys-
function has grown tremendously, and this comprehen-
sive intervention has clearly demonstrated to reduce
dyspnea and health care costs, increase exercise per-
formance, and improve health-related quality of life
(HRQL) [1-6].
One of the factors responsible for exercise limitations
and reduced HRQL in patients with respiratory disorders
is dyspnea [7,8]. Weakness or mechanical inefficiency of
the respiratory muscles results in a mismatch between
central respiratory motor output and ach ieved ventilation .
This mismatch can also explain the dyspnea experienced
by patients with neuromuscular diseases affecting the
respiratory musculature [9] and in patients with respira-
tory muscle fatigue [10]. As the pressure-generating ca-
pacity of the respiratory muscles falls and as the ratio of
the pressures produced by the respiratory muscles to the
maximum pressure that can be achieved increases dysp-
nea progressively worsens [11]. Since there is an estab-
lished association between respiratory muscle dysfunc-
tion and dyspnea, an improvement in respiratory muscle
function with inspiratory muscle training (IMT) could
lead to a reduction in dyspnea [12,13]. A meta-analysis
of IMT in 17 clinical trials found limited support for its
use in terms of improving pulmonary function, respira-
tory muscle strength and endurance, exercise capacity,
and functional status in patients with COPD [14-16]. A
consistent improvement in baseline d yspnea index (BDI)
and transitional dyspnea index was shown following
IMT [17]. Also, fewer dyspnea was reported by patients
who used IMT with a threshold loading device at 30% of
Pimax nevertheless, those who used either a very light
load or sham treatments also reported less dyspnea [18].
Inspiratory muscle training has also been found to re-
duce dyspnea during exertion not only in patients with
respiratory ailments but also in normal healthy indiv idu-
R. Sontakke et al. / Health 2 (2010) 295-299
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
als [19].
There are many individuals with chronic cardiopul-
monary disorders for which the underlying pathophysi-
ology cannot be corrected and this, in turn, frequently
results in long-term disability for the patient [20]. A
pulmonary rehabilitation programme is essential for
these patients. For a successful rehabilitation program,
accurate assessment is very important. There are variety
of measures to assess the functioning of respiratory sys-
tem which include tests of flows and volumes [21], tests
of respiratory muscle strength [22], endurance [23], fa-
tigue [24], and chest wall function analysis [25]. Routine
measurements of respiratory function (i.e., volumes,
flows and indices of gas exchange) are non specific in
relation to diagnosis but give useful indirect information
about respiratory muscle performance. More frequently,
these measurements are of use in assessing the severity,
functional consequences and progress of patients with
recognized respiratory muscle weakness [21]. Amongst
the various tests for flows and volumes, maximum vol-
untary ventilation (MVV) is a parameter that reflects
lung volume changes, respiratory muscle functioning,
compliance of the thorax lung complex and airway re-
sistance [26]. MVV is defined as the maximum amount
of air that a subject can breathe over a specified period
of time (12 seconds for normal subjects) and is ex-
pressed in L/min [27]. It can be used as a tool for as-
sessment of respiratory muscle weakness [21]. The ac-
curate estimation of MVV is critical for interpretation of
maximal sustainable ventilation (MSV). MSV is a mea-
sure of endurance of ventilatory muscles and is expre-
ssed as a fraction of MVV [23].
Direct measurements of respiratory muscle strength
are conducted using invasive as well as noninvasive
techniques. Both types of techniques require sophisti-
cated instrumentations. Measurement of Pi max (Peak
Inspiratory Pressure) is one of the most commonly used
techniques for quantificatio n of IMS. Measurement of Pi
max, though is a non-invasive method, the device to
measure Pi Max (Manovacuometer) is not routinely
available in Indian Physiotherapy set ups as it is not cost
effective. Accurate estimation of MVV value according
to ATS/ERS guidelines [27] requires a sophisticated
machine and the maneuver itself requires coordination,
motivation, understanding and may induce fatigue, gid-
diness and bronchospasm in the candidate who under-
goes the test. Also, this maneuver is not recommended in
the individuals either having or suspected respiratory
muscle weakness [21]. In order to overcome the afore-
mentioned limitations of various measurement tech-
niques, we measured the IMS using a sphygmanometer.
This device is easily available in any physical therapy
set-up, and is inexpensiv e. The purpose of our study was
to explore the relationship between the values of IMS
obtained using the sphygmanometer and MVV measured
using the spirometer. If a strong relationship exists, then
a regression equation to estimate MVV from the indi-
rectly measured IMS values can be obtained. This equa-
tion will serve the purpose of guiding clinical decision
making without the need of a sophisticated instrumenta-
tion and/or causing discomfort to our subjects.
2.1. Ethical Approval
Institutional ethical committee approval was obtained
from Sancheti Institute for orthoped ics and rehabilitation .
All the subjects were given a thorough explanation of
the procedure and a written informed consent was ob-
tained before participating in the study.
2.2. Participants
The study population consisted of normal healthy phy-
siotherapy students from Sancheti Institute College of
Physiotherapy, Pune. All th e subjects were non- athletes,
non smokers and healthy. A total number of 41 subjects
participated in the study. Demographics are presented in
Table 1.
2.3. Methods
A gap of at least four hours was given between the food
intake and actual procedure to minimize the hindrance in
the diaphragm excursion. The subjects were also in-
structed to empty the bladder before the procedure.
2.4. Estimation of Indirect Inspiratory
Muscle Strength (IMS)
The equipments used for this measurement were a pedi-
atric size blood pressure cuff, a leather belt and an aner-
oid sphygmomanometer. The subject was positioned
supine on a plinth with hip knee flexion. Velcro straps of
the blood pressure cuff were removed and it was secured
to the candidates chest two cm below the xiphoid proc-
ess. The leather belt was used for this purpose. The
blood pressure cuff was inflated to a baseline pressure of
20 mmHg which was maintained. The candidate was
then instructed to take the deepest possible breath start-
ing from functional residual capacity (FRC) and hold it
for 1 second until we noted the net deflection in ma-
nometer. The cuff was deflated and the entire procedure
was repeated two more times with a rest of ten minutes
in between each measurements. The average of the three
Table 1. Demographic data.
Variable Mean (± SD)
Age (yrs) 21 (± 3)
Males(n) 16
Females(n) 25
IMS (mmHg)49 (± 9)
MVV (L/min)110 (± 21)
R. Sontakke et al. / Health 2 (2010) 295-299
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
net deflections was taken as an indirect measurement of
inspiratory muscle strength, expressed in mm Hg.
2.5. Estimation of Maximum Voluntary
A device RMS-Resp irator was used for measuring MVV.
The device consisted of a flow sensor and a central port
attached to a desk top computer. The device was calibrated
using the standard procedure before the commencement of
the study. The calibration was ensured periodically during
the data collection. After the IMS was measured, the can-
didate was given a rest of 30 min. The candidate under-
went the slow vital capacity (SVC) maneuver and the ratio
of total inspiratory time to total respiratory cycle time
(Ti/Ttot) ratio was measured. The Ti/Ttot ratio between
0.35 and 0.4 ruled out the inspiratory muscle fatigue. The
candidate was given a demonstration of the MVV maneu-
ver to make sure that he/she had understood the procedure.
The MVV was measured for 12 seconds using the ATS/
ERS standard procedure [27].
2.6. Data Analysis
Microsoft Excel analysis tool pack was used for analyz-
ing the data. Pearson correlation coefficient was calcu-
lated to study the strength of the association between
indirect IMS and MVV. Regression equation was devel-
oped by manual calculation. In order to evaluate the ac-
curacy of prediction, coefficient of determination and
standard error of estimation (SEE) were calculated.
Analysis of variance for regression equation (ANOVA)
was performed. Level of significance was set at 0.05.
Manual calculation of the statistical tests was performed
as per the available guidelines [28].
3.1. Regression Equation
The Pearson correlation coefficient (r) obtained was 0.83
(p<0.001). This showed a strong correlation exists be-
tween MVV and indirect IMS. This has been depicted in
Figure 1. As the strong correlation was established, we
developed a regression equation. It was as follows. Y =
1.9669(X) + 49.838. In this equation Y denotes the
MVV and X denotes the indirect IMS.
3.2. Analysis of Residuals
Residual is the difference between the actual MVV value
as obtained using the sp irometer and the predicted MVV
value as obtained from the regression equation. Actual
MVV values plotted against the residuals (the difference
between actual and predicted MVV values) demon-
strated that they were evenly and randomly distributed
Figure 1. Regression equation and XY scatter showing the
association between indirect IMS and MVV.
Figure 2. Analysis of residuals: Actual Y Vs residual Y value.
As the actual value of the MVV increases, the error associated
with the predicted MVV value does not increase.
about the regression line confirming the assumptions of
the regression equation obtained as shown in Figure 2.
As depicted in Figure 2, the residuals obtained in our
study were evenly and randomly distributed about the
regression line. This confirms that the assumptions of
regression equation were met.
3.3. Accuracy of Prediction
The coefficient of determination r2 was 0.68. This indi-
cates that 68% change in the Y variable is been ex-
plained by X variable. Standard error of estimation (SEE)
for the regression equation was 13.02 L/min. If we take
into account the normal values of the MVV in healthy
individuals, this is a very negligible value suggesting
that our equation has a good accuracy of prediction.
ANOVA (analysis of variance) was done for the regres-
sion equation which came to be significant (Calculated
F = 68.9, critical value of (0.05) F (1, 39) = 4.08). This
denotes that the obtained correlation between X and Y is
not due to a chance.
The results of the study demonstrate that MVV is
form Win 98.Version1.0
R. Sontakke et al. / Health 2 (2010) 295-299
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
strongly correlated with the indirect IMS and MVV can
be predicted with a good accuracy using the indirect
IMS in a group of normal healthy college students. In
addition, the prediction equation has proved to have ex-
cellent validity when ANOVA and analysis of the re-
siduals was done. Coefficient of determination of 0.68
suggests that 68% of the variance in MVV can be ex-
plained by variance in IMS. This is because in addition
to IMS, expiratory muscle strength, complian ce of lungs
and chest wall, airway resistance also contributes to
MVV [ 2 6] .
Peak inspiratory pressure (Pi Max) is one of the sim-
plest and commonly u sed tool that is used for quantifica-
tion of IMS. But, this device is not routinely av ailable in
physical therapy set ups in India. Due to this reason we
chose to quantify the IMS indirectly instead of using Pi
The reasons for trying to quantify the indirect IMS
and then predicting MVV from it are multiple. Patients
could possibly save time, expenses, and invasive proce-
dures if an accurate prediction of their maximum volun-
tary ventilation could be made from their indirect IMS. A
common equation used for MVV estimation is MVV =
35.0 × FEV1. The usefulness of this equation has been
established in predicting MVV, in American African
girls [29]. This method may underestimate the maximum
exercise ventilation in COPD patients [31] Also, this
equation requires the actual value of FEV1 to be substi-
tuted which can be obtained only with the use of a spi-
rometer. In contrast to, these limitations, our study en-
ables the clinicians to estimate the MVV using the re-
gression equation which requires IMS value which can
be obtained without the need of a spirometer or any
other complicated device.
Applicability of Caucasian regression equations was
also studied on Indian population for prediction of
forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in
first second (FEV 1) [31]. The conclusion of this study
was that the commonly used Caucasian prediction equa-
tions, or a fixed percentage of their predicted values,
were leading to the improper interpretation of the data
obtained; that is, there was a significant difference be-
tween the values obtained using the equation and the
values obtained by actual performing the maneuver. This
happened in a significant proportion of patients and the
study reflected that there is a need to assess performance
of more than one regression equation before choosing
any single prediction equation in Indian population as
the most important step in diagnosing abnormality of
lung function in individuals is to define whether they are
within or out side the healthy subjects range. Though in
this study it was the vital capacity (VC) which was stud-
ied, we can still expect that we can apply the conclusions
from this study to the MVV also as VC is been found to
have proportionate reductions to MVV [21].
None of these studies which studied the predictive
equations for MVV had focused on the direct or indirect
IMS measurement. Also the studies which focus on IMS
have used the devices which are still expensive in India
and not routinely available in Indian Physiotherapy set
ups. Our technique of estimating IMS was inexpensive,
non invasive, uncomplicated and can be used in any
small clinical set up and also in ambulatory care set up.
Thus, our study overcomes the previously mentioned
drawbacks of the techniques for quantification of IMS
and MVV in Indian set up. Here, it was the chest expan-
sion that is, overall chest wall movement that was used
for assessment of IMS. Throughout the study it was
taken into account that the changes in the intrathoracic
blood volume could have resulted in the difference be-
tween actual lung volume change and change in the
volume of the thorax or simply the chest expansion.
But this difference being negligible has not influenced
our results [25]. This means that the chest wall motion
has reflected the volume changes occurring in the lungs
during breathing as there in no disparity between volume
changes in the lungs and volume changes of the thoracic
wall. One more confounding factor can be the elasticity
of the chest wall tissues. But, it has been shown that the
tissues of the chest wall being essentially in compressible,
volume changes of the chest wall surface are nearly
equal to volume changes of the lungs and can be used
for indirect measure of IMS [25]. Regression equation
will be useful only when the IMS value lies between
18.67 mm Hg to 50 mm Hg and for the age gro up of 18
to 24 yrs. The quantification indirect inspiratory muscle
strength needs to be studied in wider age range and dis-
eased population to increase its clinical applicability.
Also, the contribution of expiratory muscle strength to
MVV was not taken into account. Along with this, reli-
ability and validly of this new tool for evaluating IMS
needs to be studied.
A strong correlation between the indirect IMS and MVV
was established. A regression equation was developed.
This equation was tested for its ability to accurately pre-
dict the MVV and it proved to have a high predictive
value with a small error of estimation. Th is signifies that
by substituting the value of the indirect IMS in the ob-
tained equation, we can estimate MVV in normal
healthy individuals. This prediction will have a good
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