Background: When introducing new equipment or reference equations into the lung function laboratory, systematic z-score deviations could arise due to local differences in population or equipment. Objective: To propose a workable method for aligning reference equations with lung function equipment. Method: Using two cases of equipment transition in our laboratory as a test case, we first performed lung function testing after the transition, on a control group of 40 normal young adults (20 Male/20 feMale; 20-30 years old). For those indices with an average z-score in excess of ±0.5, adapted reference values were obtained by an offset or scaling factor on the M coefficient with the so-called lambda-mu-sigma (LMS) method recommended by the Global Lung Function Initiative, and the z-scores were computed again. Results: Following a transition involving instrumental dead space reduction, the lung clearance index was predictably reduced, resulting in a mean (±SD) z-score of -1.9 (±1.1) in the control group; by adapting the reference values with an offset on M, the z-score became -0.1 (±1.1). Applying the same method to a transition of standard lung function equipment, the z-scores became centered around zero in the control group, but also became properly aligned in a test group of 81 other subjects spanning a wider age range (20-80 years). Conclusions: We proposed and verified a method for aligning local equipment with reference values obtained elsewhere, or following a local change in equipment. The key is to measure a relatively small young adult group, identifying those lung function indices that need adaptation based on z-scores, in order to then obtain laboratory-specific reference values that can be applied over the entire age range.
- Lung function indices
- Reference values
- Limits of normal
- Global Lung Function Initiative