Summary Spirometry is a remarkably versatile and informative measurement with known between-test reproducibility. It can be used reliably by a range of practitioners and technologists and changes in spirometry indicate important changes in the patient's clinical condition, although the significance of a given change has to be calibrated against the disease context in which it occurs. Community-based spirometry can identify a range of diseases and exclude others while promoting significant changes in treatment.
Spirometry is a key part of bronchial challenge testing, which can be said to diagnose and monitor progress in asthma. Reductions in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) are prognostically relevant in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as are decreases in vital capacity in neuromuscular disease. Determining disease progression as the rate of decline in FEV1 is not practical at an individual patient level, but documenting the loss of lung function over time is still a valuable outcome to monitor. Used together with other clinical features, spirometry can substantially improve our assessment of the patient and their long-term management .
- ©ERS 2009