Become an
Expert in Spirometry

Global causes of a small vital capacity

The IVC and FVC may be diminished due to:

Expiratory airway obstruction Premature airway closure during expiration due to
  • accumulation of secretions
  • thickened mucosa due to inflammation
    - edema
    - cellular infiltration
    - hypertrophy and hyperplasia of glands
    - hypertrophy and hyperplasia of muscles
    - deposition of collagenous material
  • smooth muscle contraction
  • flaccid lung (emphysema): due to loss of alveoli and alveolar attachments small airways lose support
Restrictive lung disease Decreased maximum lung volume from
  • neurogenic or psychogenic causes
  • abnormalities of the thoracic wall
  • intrathoracic pathology
    - stiff parenchyma (pulmonary fibrosis)
    - loss of lung tissue, e.g. pneumonectomy
    - displacement

See also:
Restrictive lung disease
Clinical causes of a restrictive syndrome
Confirming a restrictive disorder
Restrictive ventilatory defects in pediatrics

Prevalence of restrictive disease and cost effectiveness of diagnostic procedures
Aaron SD, Dales RE, Cardinal P. How accurate is spirometry at predicting restrictive pulmonary impairment? Chest 1999; 115: 869-873.
Glady CA, Aaron SD, Lunau M, Clinch J, Dales RE. A spirometry-based algorithm to direct lung function testing in the pulmonary function laboratory. Chest 2003; 123: 1939–1946.
Swanney MP, Beckert LE, Frampton CM, et al. Validity of the American Thoracic Society and other spirometric algorithms using FVC and forced expiratory volume at 6 s for predicting a reduced total lung capacity. Chest. 2004; 126: 1861–1866.

Top of page | | | ©Philip H. Quanjer