Selecting reference values for pulmonary function tests
- Meredith C McCormack, MD, MHS
Meredith C McCormack, MD, MHS
- Assistant Professor of Medicine
- Medical Director, Pulmonary Function Laboratory Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Johns Hopkins University
Correct interpretation of pulmonary function tests (PFTs) requires the use of appropriate reference values to which the patient's results are compared [1-4].
Unlike many physiologic parameters, for which normal values do not vary with the characteristics of the particular patient, predicted values of pulmonary function depend upon age, height, sex, and race/ethnicity. Therefore, interpretation of PFTs performed for the first time must take these and other factors into consideration. In practice, spirometers and pulmonary function test equipment have software that uses reference equations for calculation of "predicted values," as determined by published studies of large numbers of healthy individuals [3,4].
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) statement on the standardization of spirometry, as well as other ATS guidelines, can be accessed through the ATS web site at www.thoracic.org/statements.
The effects of age, height, sex, and race/ethnicity on the development of normal prediction parameters for interpretation of PFTs are reviewed here. The technique and interpretation of PFTs are discussed separately. (See "Office spirometry" and "Overview of pulmonary function testing in adults" and "Overview of pulmonary function testing in children" and "Diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide".)
EFFECT OF AGE, GROWTH, AND SEX
PFT results are dependent upon age, growth, and sex.
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- EFFECT OF AGE, GROWTH, AND SEX
- EFFECT OF HEIGHT, RACE, AND WEIGHT
- PULMONARY FUNCTION REFERENCE EQUATIONS
- Other pulmonary function tests
- UPPER AND LOWER LIMITS OF NORMALITY
- ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS