Spirometric standards and patient characteristics: An exploratory study of factors affecting fulfillment in routine clinical practice

Jordi Giner, Vicente Plaza, Jordi Rigau, Judit Solà, Ignasi Bolíbar, Joaquín Sanchis

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16 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 Daedalus Enterprises. BACKGROUND: Spirometry is an apparently simple test, yet the recommended criteria for acceptability and reproducibility can be difficult to fulfill. This study aimed (1) to prospectively assess the number of tests that meet the American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society (ATS/ERS) 2005 acceptability and repeatability criteria in the routine practice of an experienced technician at a referral hospital’s lung function laboratory, (2) to identify the most common errors, and (3) to explore patient characteristics possibly associated with failure to meet standards. METHODS: We prospectively evaluated 257 consecutive spirometries supervised by the same technician, who gave priority to achieving a minimum of 3 correct maneuvers within a maximum of 8 attempts. We recorded FVC, FEV1, expiratory time (TE), back-extrapolated volume (VE), end-of-test volume (VEOT), number of maneuvers with and without errors, and errors (VE > 0.15 L or 5% of FVC, TE < 6 s, and VEOT ≥ 0.025 L for ≥ 1 s). RESULTS: Two-hundred and fifteen spirometries (83.7%, 95% CI 78.6–87.7%) met the ATS/ERS 2005 criteria. Acceptability criteria were met in 73.9% (95% CI 71.2–76.3%) of the maneuvers and repeatability criteria in 90.7% (95% CI 86.5–93.6%). A mean ± SD of 3.3 ± 1.4 per subject was acceptable, and a mean ± SD of 4.5 ± 1.9 was obtained. TE and VEOT errors were the most common. CONCLUSIONS: Nearly 15% of the subjects failed to fulfill all the ATS/ERS 2005 criteria for spirometry performed even though they were coached by a qualified and regularly trained technician in a hospital lung function laboratory. The fact that the ATS/ERS 2005 criteria cannot be met by all patients in optimal technical conditions should be further considered and explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1832-1837
JournalRespiratory Care
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Pulmonary function testing
  • Quality control
  • Spirometry
  • Standards


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