A compact electronic spirometer, the turbine pocket spirometer, which measures the FEV1, forced vital capacity (FVC), and peak expiratory flow (PEF) in a single expiration, was compared with the Vitalograph and the Wright peak flow meter in 99 subjects (FEV1 range 0.40-5.50 litres; FVC 0.58-6.48 l; PEF 40-650 l min-1). The mean differences between the machines were small--0.05 l for FEV1, 0.05 l for FVC, and 11.6 l min-1 for PEF, with the limits of agreement at +/- 0.25 l, +/- 0.48 l, and +/- 52.2 l min-1 respectively. The wide limits of agreement for the PEF comparison were probably because of the difference in the technique of blowing: a fast, long blow was used for the pocket spirometer and a short, sharp one for the Wright peak flow meter. The FEV1 and FVC showed a proportional bias of around 4-5% in favour of the Vitalograph. The repeatability coefficient for the pocket spirometer FEV1 was 0.18 l, for FVC 0.22 l, and for PEF 31 l min-1. These compared well with the repeatability coefficients of the Vitalograph and the Wright peak flow meter, which gave values of 0.18 l, 0.28 l, and 27 l min-1 respectively. At flow rates of over 600 l min-1 the resistance of the pocket spirometer marginally exceeded the American Thoracic Society recommendations. The machine is easy to operate and portable, and less expensive than the Vitalograph and Wright peak flow meter combined. It can be recommended for general use.
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