Comparison of fractional exhaled nitric oxide, spirometry, and Asthma Control Test, in predicting asthma exacerbations: A prospective cohort study

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Lung India


Context: Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a noninvasive test for airway inflammation in asthma. The usefulness of FeNO in predicting exacerbations is uncertain. Aims: The study aims to assess and compare the ability of FeNO, spirometry, and asthma control test (ACT) in predicting future exacerbations of asthma and their correlation with each other. Settings and Design: This prospective, cohort study was conducted at the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal. Materials and Methods: Adult asthma patients of age 18-65 years were included. Patients with a smoking history of >10 pack-years and those in whom spirometry was contraindicated were excluded. Patients who consented underwent FeNO and spirometry. The control of asthma was assessed using the ACT questionnaire. We captured the number of exacerbations in the follow-up period of 4 months. Statistical Analysis Used: Mann-Whitney test was used to compare the utility of FeNO, spirometry, ACT in predicting exacerbations and Spearman's correlation coefficient was used to ascertain the correlation among them. Results: Of 154 study patients, 28% had exacerbations. We found that there was no significant difference in FeNO in patients with and without exacerbations. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) FEV1% in the patients with and without exacerbations were 68 (55-79) and 75 (65-88), respectively (P = 0.013). The median (IQR) ACT score in patients with exacerbations was 12 (10-16) which was significantly lower than in those without exacerbation in whom it was 16 (14-18) (P = 0.003). There was a negative correlation of ACT with FeNO (Correlation coefficient: -0.167, P = 0.038). The median (IQR) FeNO level (ppb) was lower in patients who were on inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) than in the other group values being 22 (14-38) and 30 (17-58), respectively (P = 0.05). Conclusions: In our study, FEV1% and ACT score could predict exacerbations of asthma whereas FeNO could not. FeNO level correlated inversely with ACT score. FeNO level decreased with inhaled corticosteroid usage.

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