It is unlikely that you would diagnose hypertension without a blood pressure cuff, or evaluate someone’s blood glucose level without a glucometre. Likewise, one should not arbitrarily treat respiratory disease without an objective measure of lung function such as spirometry.

The Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines state that objective measurements such as spirometry are needed to confirm the diagnosis of asthma and assess asthma control and the efficacy of therapy.

This view is echoed in the Canadian Thoracic Society COPD guidelines, which state that airflow obstruction confirmed by spirometry is essential for the diagnosis of COPD. All patients with suspected COPD should have their lung function assessed by spirometry. A Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) of less than 0.70 is required for the diagnosis of COPD.

The Spirometry in Primary Care CD-Rom endorsed by the Ontario Thoracic Society, Ontario Respiratory Care Society and the Family Physicians Airways Group of Canada is currently being distributed to primary care providers across Canada. The CD is easy to navigate and includes: spirometry interpretation, example cases, peak flow, related links and resources.

The objectives of the CD are as follows:

  • To describe the role of spirometry in primary care
  • To list the indications and contraindications for doing spirometry
  • To outline the steps involved in performing spirometry
  • To understand spirogram acceptability criteria
  • To distinguish between restrictive and obstructive ventilatory defects