Spirometry was underutilized for asthma diagnosis and management in US adults, according to researchers.

This study evaluated trends, from 2001 to 2011, in the use of spirometry in patients within a year of when they were diagnosed with asthma. The findings are detailed in the American Journal of Medicine.

In all, 134,208 asthma patients were included in the study. Only 48 percent had spirometry performed within one year of diagnosis. Younger patients, males and those residing in the Northeast were more likely to receive spirometry. Eighty percent of patients cared for by specialists received spirometry, while only 23 percent of those cared for by primary care physicians underwent the test. However, even without spirometry, close to 80 percent of patients were prescribed asthma drugs.

“Physicians must be educated about the usefulness of spirometry and given evidence of its medical and monetary value,” said Dr. Kristin Sokol, assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of allergy and immunology. “As the Choosing Wisely initiative implies, the underuse of spirometry may lead to misdiagnosis or under diagnosis of asthma.”

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