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Clinical Investigations: EXERCISE |

6-Minute Walk Testing Is More Sensitive Than Maximal Incremental Cycle Testing for Detecting Oxygen Desaturation in Patients With COPD*

Magali Poulain; Fabienne Durand; Bernard Palomba; François Ceugniet; Jacques Desplan; Alain Varray; Christian Préfaut
Author and Funding Information

*From the Clinique du Souffle “La Solane” (Drs. Poulain, Palomba, Ceugniet, and Desplan), Osséja; UPRES-EA 701 Physiologie des Interactions (Dr. Préfaut), Service de Physiologie Clinique, Hôpital Arnaud de Villeneuve, Montpellier; UPRES-EA Sport (Dr. Varray), Performance, Santé, Faculté des Sciences du Sport, Montpellier; and Laboratoire Sport (Dr. Durand), Santé, Altitude, Département STAPS l’Ermitage, Font-Romeu, France.

Correspondence to: Magali Poulain, PhD, Clinique du Souffle “La Solane,” 19 rue des Casteillets 66340 Osséja, France; e-mail: mpoulain@aol.com



Chest. 2003;123(5):1401-1407. doi:10.1378/chest.123.5.1401
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Study objectives: Some respiratory patients exhibit oxygen desaturation during rehabilitative walking but not during maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET). We evaluated exercise-induced desaturation during 6-min walk testing (6MWT) in comparison with CPET in patients with COPD and determined the reproducibility of the phenomenon.

Patients: We tested 80 consecutive patients with COPD (FEV1, 62.4 ± 2% predicted) and 10 patients with supplementary COPD (FEV1, 59.1 ± 5% predicted) [mean ± SEM] to determine the reproducibility.

Measurements and results: First, patients with COPD performed cycle CPET (first CPET [CPET-1]). Three days later, they performed two 6MWTs (first 6MWT [6MWT-1] and second 6MWT [6MWT-2]). Pulse oximetric saturation (Spo2) was recorded every minute in both tests. Three groups emerged: desaturation at 6MWT not observed at CPET (DND) [n = 23], desaturation in both tests (n = 16), and no desaturation in either test (n = 41). Second, to evaluate reproducibility, 10 additional subjects with COPD who exhibited desaturation during two successive 6MWTs but not in CPET performed a second CPET (CPET-2) and a single-bout 6MWT (6MWT-3) in a supplementary trial. When two CPETs were performed, lack of O2 desaturation was noted in both. O2 desaturation was confirmed in 6MWT-2 and 6MWT-3 (7.4 ± 1% and 7.4 ± 1.5%, respectively).

Conclusion: Twenty-eight percent of patients with COPD presented DND. The phenomenon was reproducible and not protocol dependent, emphasizing the clinical interest of the 6MWT.

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