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Influence of Spirometry and Chest Roentgenography on the Management of Pulmonary Outpatients

Michael W. Owens, MD; Gary T. Kinasewitz, MD; Ronald S. Lambert, MD; William H. Matthews, MD; D. Keith Payne, MD; Ronald B. George, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(11):1966-1969. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370110094014.
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• Spirometry and chest roentgenography are frequently employed to evaluate patients with respiratory problems. To determine their impact on the management of outpatients with lung disease, both tests were performed on 100 consecutive patients (40 men and 60 women; mean age, 52 ±15 years) who returned for reevaluation 16 ±9 weeks after their previous clinic visit. Patients with obstructive (n =45), restrictive (n =35), and mixed (n=20) lung diseases were initially assessed by history and physical examination and classified clinically as improved, stable, or worse. A clinical management plan (CMP) was formulated based on this initial evaluation. Changes in the proposed CMP due to spirographic or roentgenographic results were then noted. None of the 19 patients who were clinically improved and only two (3%) of the 64 clinically stable patients had a change in CMP. In contrast, five (29%) of the 17 patients whose conditions deteriorated clinically had their proposed CMP modified after review of the spirograms and roentgenograms. Therapy was intensified in three of the seven patients whose CMPs were modified, while in the other four, treatment was withheld because results of both tests were unchanged. These results indicate that routine spirograms and chest films have little influence on the CMP of clinically stable patients. However, unexpected roentgenographic and spirometric findings frequently alter the management of the individual whose condition has clinically deteriorated.

(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:1966-1969)

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