Spirometry is the most commonly performed lung function test. By performing maximal inspiratory and expiratory manoeuvres through a mouthpiece, it provides us with basic information about a patient’s airways function and capacity.
It may be performed for a variety of reasons, including:
• To detect the presence or absence of lung disease
• To confirm the findings of other investigations
• To quantify the extent of lung impairment
• To investigate the effects of other diseases on lung function
• To monitor the effects of environmental exposures
• To determine the effects of medication interventions
Most guidelines relating to respiratory disease (see below) indicate the performance of spirometry, and insist that those performing the measurement and interpreting the results have had appropriate training. The centres must also have rigorous calibration and quality assurance measures in place to ensure accurate measurements are being made.
Spirometry must be performed to a high standard in order that we can accurately interpret the results and rely on repeated measurements to track any changes to the patient’s condition. The ARTP Spirometry Committee has produced a statement on what is 'Quality Assured Diagnostic Spirometry', which you can access via the link.
NICE Clinical Guideline 101: Management of COPD in Adults in Primary and Secondary Care; June 2010.
BTS/SIGN 141: British Guideline on the management of Asthma: A national clinical guideline; October 2014.
The British Thoracic Society in collaboration with the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Irish Thoracic Society. Interstitial lung disease guideline. Thorax 2008;63;v1-v58.
NICE Clinical Guideline CG163. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: The diagnosis and management of suspected idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
IMPRESS (Improving and Integrating respiratory Services)