Spirometry use: detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the primary care setting
Thomas A Barnes1, Len Fromer2
1Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA; 2David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Objective: To describe a practical method for family practitioners to stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by the use of office spirometry.
Methods: This is a review of the lessons learned from evaluations of the use of office spirometry in the primary care setting to identify best practices using the most recent published evaluations of office spirometry and the analysis of preliminary data from a recent spirometry mass screening project. A mass screening study by the American Association for Respiratory Care and the COPD Foundation was used to identify the most effective way for general practitioners to implement office spirometry in order to stage COPD.
Results: A simple three-step method is described to identify people with a high pre-test probability in an attempt to detect moderate to severe COPD: COPD questionnaire, measurement of peak expiratory flow, and office spirometry. Clinical practice guidelines exist for office spirometry basics for safety, use of electronic peak flow devices, and portable spirometers.
Conclusion: Spirometry can be undertaken in primary care offices with acceptable levels of technical expertise. Using office spirometry, primary care physicians can diagnose the presence and severity of COPD. Spirometry can guide therapies for COPD and predict outcomes when used in general practice.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, spirometry, family practice, primary care physician
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