Six-minute walk test for the evaluation of pulmonary disease severity in scleroderma patients

Chest. 2007 Jan;131(1):217-22. doi: 10.1378/chest.06-0630.


Background: Pulmonary involvement is the leading cause of systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related deaths. A simple test to evaluate exercise capacity is the 6-min walk test (6MWT), and the walk distance is used as a primary outcome in clinical trials. Hemoglobin desaturation during a 6MWT is predictive of mortality in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension. Our objectives were to evaluate the walk distance and resting oxygen saturation - oxygen saturation after the 6-min period (DeltaSat) during the 6MWT in patients with SSc, and to establish correlations between the 6MWT results and other clinical variables.

Methods: We analyzed 110 SSc patients. DeltaSat was defined as a fall of end-of-test saturation >or= 4%. Clinical and demographic data were collected. All the patients were submitted to chest radiographs and high-resolution CT (HRCT) and underwent pulmonary function testing and echocardiography, and the presence of autoantibodies was determined.

Results: The variables associated with a walk distance < 400 m (p < 0.05) were age, dyspnea index, fibrosis on radiography, pulmonary arterial systolic pressure (PASP) >or= 30 mm Hg, and desaturation. The variables associated with DeltaSat (p < 0.05) were age, positive anti-Scl-70 autoantibody, dyspnea index, fibrosis on radiography, FVC < 80% of predicted, PASP >or= 30 mm Hg, and ground-glass or reticular opacities on HRCT. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, three variables were significant when tested with walk distance: age, race, and dyspnea index; four variables were significant when tested with DeltaSat: age, dyspnea index, positive anti-Scl-70 autoantibody, and FVC < 80% of predicted.

Conclusions: Desaturation during a 6MWT provides additional information regarding severity of disease in scleroderma patients with pulmonary manifestations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Echocardiography
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oximetry
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed