Pulmonary function testing in COPD: looking beyond the curtain of FEV1.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management remains challenging due to the high heterogeneity of clinical symptoms and the complex pathophysiological basis of the disease. Airflow limitation, diagnosed by spirometry, remains the cornerstone of the diagnosis. However, the calculation of the forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) alone, has limitations in uncovering the underlying complexity of the disease. Incorporating additional pulmonary function tests (PFTs) in the everyday clinical evaluation of COPD patients, like resting volume, capacity and airway resistance measurements, diffusion capacity measurements, forced oscillation technique, field and cardiopulmonary exercise testing and muscle strength evaluation, may prove essential in tailoring medical management to meet the needs of such a heterogeneous patient population. We aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the available PFTs, which can be incorporated into the primary care physician’s practice to enhance the efficiency of COPD management.

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Authors: Sotirios Kakavas, Ourania S Kotsiou, Fotis Perlikos, Maria Mermiri, Georgios Mavrovounis, Konstantinos Gourgoulianis, Ioannis Pantazopoulos