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Office spirometry can improve the diagnosis of obstructive airway disease in primary care setting.

Respir Med. 2009 Feb 4. Averame G, Bonavia M, Ferri P, Moretti AM, Fogliani V, Cricelli C, Canonica GW, Grassi C, Paggiaro PL, Rossi A; on behalf of the “Alliance Project” Study Group. MedicaLink s.r.l., Genova, Italy.

INTRODUCTION: Spirometry may reveal pre-clinical abnormal airway function in asymptomatic subjects and allow a better definition of severity in clinically diagnosed asthma and COPD. The hypothesis of this study was that telespirometry might increase the diagnostic accuracy of asthma and COPD.

METHODS: In the Italian "Alliance" study, 638 general practitioners (GPs) were trained to perform telespirometry and were asked to enrol the following categories of subjects: (a) current or ex-smokers without respiratory symptoms; (b) subjects with respiratory symptoms but without a pre-existing diagnosis of asthma or COPD; (c) subjects with a pre-existing clinical diagnosis of asthma; and (d) subjects with a pre-existing clinical diagnosis of COPD. Subjects completed a case report form (CRF) and performed telespirometry in the GP's office. Traces were sent by telephone to a Telespirometry Central Office, where they were interpreted by a pulmonary specialist, according to appropriately defined criteria. The results were returned in real time to the GP.

RESULTS: Overall, 9312 subjects were recruited and 7262 (78%) performed an acceptable telespirometric examination and the CRF. In the asymptomatic group, 340/1437 (24%) of the telespirometries were abnormal (147 with moderate-to-severe airway obstruction, i.e. FEV(1) <80% of predicted). Among symptomatic subjects, 1433/3725 (38%) had abnormal telespirometries (682 with moderate-to-severe obstruction). Of the asthmatic subjects, 336/1285 (26%) had moderate-to-severe airway obstruction, while telespirometry was normal in 184/815 (23%) of the COPD group.

CONCLUSION: Telespirometry, performed in a GP's office, can aid the diagnosis of obstructive airway diseases and could help GPs to better manage airway obstruction.

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