Upper airway function in burn patients. Correlation of flow-volume curves and nasopharyngoscopy

E. F. Haponik, A. M. Munster, R. A. Wise, P. L. Smith, D. A. Meyers, E. J. Britt, E. R. Bleecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


To determine whether upper airway obstruction is detectable in patients with thermal injury, flow-volume curves were performed in 42 burn patients who were at risk for acute upper airway obstruction. Eighteen (42.9%) patients had abnormal inspiratory curves that were consistent with variable extrathoracic obstruction, a finding in only 8 (16%) of 50 nonburn control patients (p < 0.01). A sawtooth pattern of the expiratory flow-volume curve was observed in 12 (28.6%) burn patients and in 5 (10%) control patients (p < 0.05). The presence of diminished peak and midinspiratory flow rates (p < 0.05) and patterns of extrathoracic obstruction (p < 0.01) in burn patients correlated with the severity of anatomic injury visualized during fiberoptic nasopharyngoscopy and was more sensitive than the history and physical examination in detecting upper airway injury. Furthermore, flow-volume curve abnormalities were correlated (p < 0.05) with the eventual need for endotracheal intubation. We conclude that physiologic dysfunction is often detectable using flow-volume curves in such burn patients, correlated with structural changes observed during nasopharyngoscopy, and is useful in the early assessment of patients at risk for upper airway obstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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