10 Steps to Good Results
Because spirometry is an effort-dependent test, coaching the subject throughout the test is necessary for obtaining useful results. Despite the use of accurate spirometers, the usefulness of the results are dependent on the patient’s effort. Inhaling maximally is just as important as exhaling maximally. Following the steps below will help assure you get the best results possible from your patients.
- Make sure your spirometer is turned on and a new mouthpiece is inserted.
- Input accurate ID data; ID number, age, height, sex, and race. Consider measuring the patients height.
- Remove gum, candy or dentures and loosen restrictive clothing.
- Patient may sit or stand, but be consistent and record the position.
- Explain the procedure, stating that there is no resistance (such as blowing into a balloon) and that they will feel like they have exhaled completely in only a few seconds, but to keep exhaling until you tell them to stop.
- Demonstrate the procedure using your own mouthpiece, showing how deeply you need to inhale, how to correctly place the mouthpiece into your mouth (teeth on the outside with lips sealed tightly), and how fast and long you need to exhale.
- Coach the patient. When the spirometer is ready to go, tell the subject to take as deep a breath possible before putting the mouthpiece into their mouth, now place their mouth on the mouthpiece, and Blast out the air, GO, GO, GO, GO, Keep going, until the subject has exhaled for at least six seconds. (3 seconds in children).
- Watch the patient’s performance closely for poor maneuvers. If the effort appears unacceptable, identify the reason and instruct the patient how to perform the test better.
- 9) Try to get three acceptable maneuvers. If after 8 attempts you are unsuccessful, terminate testing and reschedule for another day.
- Print and review your spirometry results!
See Sample Spirometry Tracings for acceptable and unacceptable test examples.