Background and objective Currently there is paucity of evidence in the literature in relation to normative values for diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide (DLCO) and total lung capacity (TLC) among Indigenous Australians. Hence, in this study we assessed the DLCO and TLC parameters among Indigenous Australians in comparison to Australian Caucasian counterparts.
Methods DLCO and TLC values were assessed and compared between Indigenous Australians and Australian Caucasians matched for age, sex and body mass index, with normal chest radiology.
Results Of the 1350 and 5634 pulmonary function tests assessed in Indigenous Australian and Australian Caucasian adults respectively, a total of 129 Indigenous Australians and 197 Australian Caucasians met the inclusion criteria. Absolute DLCO and TLC values for Indigenous Australians were a mean 4.3 ml/min/mmHg (95% CI 2.86, 5.74) and 1.03 L (95% CI 0.78, 1.27) lower than Australian Caucasians (p<0.01). Percentage predicted values were 15.38 (95% CI 11.59, 19.17) and 16.63 (95% CI 13.59, 19.68) points lower for DLCO and TLC, respectively. Lower limit of normal (LLN) values did not significantly differ between groups, however a significantly greater proportion of Indigenous Australians recorded values below the LLN in comparison to Australian Caucasians for DLCO (64 vs. 25%, p<0.01) and TLC (66 vs. 21%, p<0.01). Significant differences for the interaction of sex on DLCO and TLC were noted in Australian Caucasians, with reduced or absent sex differentiation among Indigenous Australians.
Conclusions There are significant differences in DLCO and TLC parameters between Indigenous Australian compared to Australian Caucasians. Appropriate DLCO and TLC norms need to be established for Indigenous Australians.