Over the last 25 years, great efforts have been made to develop techniques to assess respiratory muscle function. Research output in this area has progressively increased, with the number of peer reviewed articles published on respiratory muscle function having increased remarkably during the 1995-2000 period compared with 1980-1985.

This official joint statement represents the work of an expert ATS/ERS committee, which reviewed the merits of currently known techniques available to evaluate respiratory muscle function. The statement consists of 10 sections, each addressing a major aspect of muscle function or a particular field of application. Each section addresses the rationale for the techniques, their scientific basis, the equipment required, and, when pertinent, provides values obtained in healthy subjects or in patients. Some of the techniques reviewed in this statement have thus far been used primarily in clinical research and their full potential has not yet been established; however, they are mentioned for the purpose of stimulating their further development.

Through continued efforts in the area of respiratory muscle testing, it is anticipated that there will be further enhancement of diagnostic and treatment capabilities in specialties such as intensive care, sleep medicine, pediatrics, neurology, rehabilitation, sports medicine, speech therapy, and respiratory medicine.

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