Validation of whole room indirect calorimeters: Refinement of current methodologies

Russell Rising, Thomas Foerster, Avigdor D. Arad, Jeanine Albu, Xavier Pi-Sunyer

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1 Scopus citations


Whole room indirect calorimeter (WRIC) validation techniques consist of propane combustion (PC) or infusion of mixed carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) by a precision blender (PB). To determine the best method, PC of 6, 10, 22-h and PB infusions of 6, 10, and 14-h, were conducted. The 14-h infusion consisted of two metabolic settings. Energy expenditure (EE; kJ), ventilation (V; liters/min) of oxygen (VO2), VCO2, and respiratory quotient (VCO2/VO2) obtained from the WRIC were extrapolated to the respective test durations and compared to similarly calculated values. Moreover, accurate equations (AE) were derived to correct infusions for additional N2. As a final evaluation of a PC validated WRIC, weight maintenance (WM), energy balance (EB), respiratory quotient (RQ), and food quotients (FQ) were determined in 22 subjects who had repeat 24-h EE measurements. Statistical analyses (P < 0.05) were conducted (SPSS, version 23). Significant differences in RQ existed between PC and stoichiometry after 6-h. Errors for the rest of the PC tests ranged from –1.5 ± 2.4 (VCO2) to 2.8 ± 4.6% (EE). When compared with the WRIC, all uncorrected metabolic parameters for six and 10-h PB infusions were significantly different with errors from –12.8 ± 1.6 (VO2) to 6.0 ± 2.8% (RQ). The AE reduced the magnitude of errors to –12.4 ± 1.5 (RQ) to 2.2 ± 3.0% (RQ). The PB infusion with two settings showed similar performance. No differences in WM, EB, RQ, or FQ existed in the subjects. In conclusion, 10-h PC tests are sufficient for validating WRICs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13521
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Blender
  • Energy
  • Infusion and combustion
  • Propane
  • Validation


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