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LFNMR FOR LUNGS monitoring

Clinical conditions monitoringCOPDCystic fibrosisLow Field NMR


Development of a novel approach to monitor lung ventilation/inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD, such as cystic fibrosis) patients. This approach is simple, cheap, reliable fast and overcomes the drawbacks of commonly adopted strategies (such as forced expiratory volume in the first second; FEV1). It relies on the determination of the spin-spin relaxation time of the sputum produced by patients voluntary expectoration.

Technical features

The Low-field NMR approach relies on the water hydrogens tendency to align to the direction of a static magnetic field B0 embedding them. The application of a radiofrequency field B1, perpendicular to B0, causes the rotation of dipole moments in the B1 plane. Once B1 is removed, the dipoles come back to the original B0 direction (relaxation). The time required to get B0 direction (relaxation time T2m) depends on the concentration and the spatial organization of the compounds present in the sputum of patients affect by COPD pathologies (proteins, polymers, DNA, bacteria and so on). Thus, the evaluation of sputum T2m gives immediately an idea of the lung functionality/inflammation as these compounds are, practically, not present in healthy subjects. It is worth pointing out that, this approach needs simply a sputum sample and to put it immediately in a glass holder embedded in a static magnetic field (NMR instrument). Furthermore, the equipment used has much lower cost than that competing to a high-field NMR and it can be housed on any laboratory counter

Possible Applications

  • Determination of lung functionality and inflammatory status in patients affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as cystic fibrosis, asthma and bacterial or viral infections


  • Easy to use;
  • Short operating time;
  • Inexpensive;
  • Reliable;
  • Not invasive.