Alternative functional criteria to assess airflow-limitation reversibility in asthma

A Tavares e Castro, P Matos, B Tavares, M J Matos, A Segorbe-Luís
Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia 2015, 21 (2): 69-75

INTRODUCTION: International guidelines define significant bronchodilator response as absolute and percentage change from baseline in forced expiratory volume (FEV1) in the first second and/or forced vital capacity (FVC) ≥12% and 200 mL. However, bronchodilator effects on other lung function parameters have also been correlated to some degree of reversible airflow limitation.

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether changes in other lung function parameters apart from FEV1 and FVC detect functional responses to bronchodilator in asthmatic patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Spirometry and body plethysmography were performed at baseline conditions and after administration of 400 μg of salbutamol by metered-dose inhaler through a space chamber device in asthmatic patients. Paired t-tests were used to compare lung function parameters between those with and without criteria for reversibility of airway obstruction according to ATS/ERS criteria. Cut-off values were obtained from the corresponding ROC curves. Measurements evaluated were FEV1, FVC, maximum mid-forced expiratory flow (FEF25-75%), residual volume (RV), inspiratory capacity (IC), airway resistance (Raw) and specific airway conductance (sGaw).

RESULTS: From a total of 100 consecutive asthmatics patients (46% of them men; average age 58.7±14.1 years; 76% with mild to moderate obstruction), 50 patients had a significant bronchodilator response. All of these had noteworthy variations (p<0.004) in PEF, FEF25-75%, RV, Raw and sGaw. The most accurate in predicting a significant bronchodilator response were the absolute and percentage improvements in PEF (≥0.4 L/s and 8%), FEF25-75% (≥0.087 L/s and 27%) and the percentage of sGaw compared with that at baseline (≥25%). Based on these cut-off values, a sizeable number of the patients defined as non-responders had important changes in airway caliber. 17 patients had significant increments in the percentage of PEF and 10 had changes in absolute volume; 6 patients had increments in percentage and 16 in absolute change of FEF25-75%; 22 patients had increments in the percentage change of sGaw.

CONCLUSIONS: Changes of FEV1 and/or FVC may underestimate significant functional response to bronchodilators in asthmatic patients with airway obstruction when considering the change in other lung function parameters.

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