Comparison of two- and six-minute walk tests in detecting oxygen desaturation in patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - A randomized crossover trial

Chron Respir Dis. 2016 Mar 8;13(3):256-263. doi: 10.1177/1479972316636991. Online ahead of print.


The two-minute walk test (2MWT) is less well validated than the well-known six-minute walk test (6MWT) as a field walking test in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The primary objective of this study was to compare the accuracy of the 2MWT to the 6MWT in detecting exercise-induced oxygen desaturation in patients with severe COPD. Twenty-six patients with COPD (age: 61 ± 10 years, forced expired volume in one second: 37 ± 10%) that were normoxemic at rest performed a 2MWT and a 6MWT under normal ambient conditions on two consecutive days in random order. Oxygen saturation, total walking distance, heart rate, breathing frequency, dyspnea, and leg fatigue were evaluated. Average walking distances were 150 m (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 134-165 m) and 397 m (95% CI: 347-447 m) for the 2MWT and 6MWT, respectively (r = 0.80, p < 0.0001). The difference in minimum oxygen saturation during the 2MWT (83%, 95% CI: 81-86%) and 6MWT (mean 82%, 95% CI: 80-84%) was not statistically different and the data strongly correlated between the groups (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Other measurements from the 6MWT, including heart rate, breathing rate, and levels of perceived exertion were also comparable in 2MWT. The 2MWT showed comparable validity in detecting exercise-induced oxygen desaturation in patients with severe COPD compared to the 6MWT.

Keywords: COPD; oxygen saturation; pulmonary rehabilitation; six-minute walk test; two-minute walk test; walk test.