The utility of hand-held mobile spirometer technology in a resource-constrained setting

Du Plessis, E. ; Swart, F. ; Maree, D. ; Heydenreich, J. ; Van Heerden, J. ; Esterhuizen, T. M. ; Irusen, E. M. ; Koegelenberg, C. F. N. (2019)

CITATION: Du Plessis, E., et al. 2019. The utility of hand-held mobile spirometer technology in a resource-constrained setting. South African Medical Journal, 109(4):219-222, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i4.13845.

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Background. Mobile phone-linked spirometry technology has been designed specifically for evaluating lung function at primary care level. The Air-Smart Spirometer is the first mobile spirometer accepted in Europe for the screening of patients with chronic respiratory diseases. Objectives. To prospectively assess the accuracy of the device in measuring forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) in a South African population, and to investigate the ability of the device to detect obstructive ventilatory impairment. Methods. A total of 200 participants were randomly assigned to perform spirometry with either the mobile spirometer connected to a smartphone or the desktop spirometer first, followed by the other. The FEV1/FVC ratio as well as the absolute FEV1 and FVC measurements were compared, using each participant as their own control. A Pearson correlation and Bland-Altman analysis were performed to measure the agreement between the two devices. We defined obstructive ventilatory impairment as FEV1/FVC <0.7 measured by desktop spirometry in order to calculate the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of the Air-Smart Spirometer. Results. There was a strong correlation between the absolute FEV1 and FVC values and FEV1/FVC ratio measured with the mobile Air-Smart Spirometer and more conventional pulmonary function testing, with r=0.951, r=0.955 and r=0.898, respectively. The Air-Smart Spirometer had a sensitivity of 97.6%, specificity of 74.4%, PPV of 73.0% and NPV of 97.8% for obstructive ventilatory impairment. Conclusions. The mobile Air-Smart Spirometer compared well with conventional spirometry, making it an attractive and potentially affordable tool for screening purposes in a primary care setting. Moreover, it had a high sensitivity and NPV for obstructive ventilatory impairment.

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