Use of respiratory function tests to predict survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2010;11(1-2):194-202. doi: 10.3109/17482960902991773.


Respiratory function tests (RFTs) are commonly used as a measure of progression in ALS. This study assessed the ability of various RFTs to predict survival in ALS patients. Subjects with ALS had one or more measurements of seated and supine FVC, maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) and maximal expiratory pressure (MEP). Kaplan-Meier (KM) analysis was used to determine whether patients with abnormal RFTs had shorter survival than those with normal RFTs. The sensitivity and specificity of RFTs as predictors of two-year survival were calculated from receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. With KM analysis, subjects with abnormal values of seated FVC, supine FVC, MIP and MEP had significantly reduced survival compared to subjects with normal values. With ROC curves, a normal supine FVC was highly predictive for two-year survival and had superior sensitivity over seated FVC. Slower rates of decline in seated or supine FVC were strong predictors of two-year survival. Our study demonstrates that respiratory function measurements are useful to predict survival in ALS patients. We show that measurements of FVC in the supine position are worth including in the assessment of respiratory function in ALS.

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / mortality*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Respiratory Function Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spirometry
  • Vital Capacity