Improvement in Lung Function Measurements Using a Flow Spirometer that Emphasizes Computer Assessment of Test Quality


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Abstract

We compared retrospective measurements of lung function from 101 steel workers using a commercially available spirometer to prospective lung function measurements performed, on average, 1.3 years later, with a newly developed spirometer. This spirometer was designed and developed to incorporate technology that provides immediate feedback on the quantitative and qualitative aspects of each forced expiratory effort. Of the 101 workers, 82 who had spirometry performed with each spirometer had at least two acceptable curves, and 51 workers tested with each spirometer had curves that met all American Thoracic Society (ATS) criteria for spirometry. No group showed the anticipated decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) over time. The results showed an increased number of curves meeting ATS acceptability and reproducibility criteria, and a statistically significant increase in the FVC in all groups, and an increase in the FEV1 in the group encompassing all workers. Use of technology that strengthens the interaction between the spirometry technician, the data available to the technician on the computer, and the participant appears to represent true underlying lung function more accurately. Such an approach to the collection of lung function data should be considered by those evaluating spirometers for implementation in the workplace or pulmonary function laboratory as well as by those planning future spirometer development.

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