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Laser Device Measures Severity of Asthma

It tests levels of carbon dioxide and nitric oxide in a single exhalation

MONDAY, Oct. 14, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A University of Oklahoma researcher has found a way to use a laser to analyze the breath of people with asthma to provide more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Patrick McCann coupled a tunable laser to a laser spectroscopy system, creating a device that accurately measures carbon dioxide and nitric oxide levels in a single exhalation of breath.

The precise measurements provided by the device may help doctors better evaluate airway inflammation in patients and better prescribe appropriate levels of medication.

When diagnosing and treating asthma, doctors have to assess airflow through a person's airways. That can be made more difficult when there is airway inflammation. Physically invasive procedures are often used to assess the level of airway inflammation.

Previous research determined that people with asthma exhale more nitric oxide when they have inflamed airways. Currently, those nitric oxide levels are measured with devices that analyze the photochemical reaction between nitrogen and an ozone sample.

This approach often requires multiple tests and the devices require periodic recalibration, something not necessary with this new laser device. The new device is undergoing clinical trials.

More information

Learn more about asthma at the American Lung Association.

SOURCE: University of Oklahoma, news release, October 2002
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