What Is the Role of PFTs in Monitoring Adverse Effects of Surgery, Drug Treatments, Radiation Therapy, and During Hospitalization?

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Measurement of various aspects of pulmonary function is a relatively easy, noninvasive, and inexpensive way to gauge the status of the respiratory system. Interest in using these tests to determine risk from medical and surgical interventions stems from their presumed ability to be more sensitive than history or physical examination in detecting underlying lung disease. When coupled with the assumption that early detection of pulmonary abnormalities will lead to alterations in patient management, the ultimate goal of improved patient outcomes becomes very attractive. However, despite advances in technology, achievement of this goal has proved to be more challenging than expected in many areas. This paper attempts to review the literature addressing several of the more difficult of these areas. It is clear that more research, involving more rigorously designed studies, will be necessary, before definitive answers are available.

Keywords: clinical utility; outcomes; pulmonary function testing; risk

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4187/respcare.01467

Affiliations: Pulmonary and Critical Care, Medicine Service, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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