This review considers whether there is a role for lung function tests in the clinical management of infants with lung disease. The purpose of testing lung function in older subjects, the tests available for infants, and the practical problems of testing lung function in infants are considered. After reviewing all the facts, we suggest that there are four situations in which lung function testing should be recommended for infants, as follows: 1) the infant who presents with unexplained tachypnea, hypoxia, cough, or respiratory distress in whom a definitive diagnosis is not apparent from physical examination and other, less difficult investigations; 2) the infant with severe, continuous, chronic obstructive lung disease who does not respond to an adequate clinical trial of combined corticosteroid and bronchodilator therapy; 3) the infant with known respiratory disease of uncertain severity in whom there is need to justify management decisions; and 4) research and development. A review of 62 recent publications to determine how lung function tests are being used at the present time showed that they are being used overwhelmingly for research. The role of lung function testing in the clinical management of infants has not been established, and research is needed to clarify this situation. We suggest that such studies should explore the role of lung function tests in infants with specific symptoms, signs, or diagnoses, taking into account information from other types of investigation and the cost/benefit/risk ratios.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine