Bronchoalveolar lavage: General approaches to correct for variability of dilution and lung permeability

R. P. Baughman, S. I. Rennard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples the lower respiratory tract. The process of introducing and withdrawing fluid leads to variable dilution of the lung lining fluid. A main objective of the task force was to develop a standard approach for performing and reporting BAL. The use of internal and external markers both present problems in estimating lung lining fluid dilution. However, the major causes of variations in lavage results are due to variability in the technique itself. Standard methods for handling lavage are proposed. In addition, recommendations are made for a standard approach in reporting the lavage process. The use of a standard reporting method will lead to a better understanding of the value of particular results. This can be used to clarify whether or not changes seen in diseased states are reproducible and therefore useful. The task force recommends that investigators should try to standardize the volume of lavage fluid introduced and should report results per mL bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in addition to any other approach needed. Although small differences between groups may not be detected using this method, there is little evidence to date that other correction factors for the dilution of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid give a better resolution between health and disease. Reporting the volume of each bolus used, the total amount of fluid introduced and the percentage recovery should also be standardized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-31
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Respiratory Review
Issue number66
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Acellular components
  • Bronohoalveolar lavage
  • Dilution
  • European Respiratory Society Task Force Report
  • Sampling
  • Standardization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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