Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Correspondence to: Robert M. Ross, MD, FCCP, 6550 Fannin St, Suite 2403, Houston, TX 77030; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the January 2004 issue of CHEST, Drs. Irvin and Kaminsky1wrote an editorial regarding the American Thoracic Society (ATS)/American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) statement on cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in January of 2003.2 In their article, they point out that the data generated from CPET are easily the most difficult set of results a director of a pulmonary function laboratory has to interpret. They go on to give the opinion that the resources available to help physicians in interpretation are limited. They state that although the ATS/ACCP statement is comprehensive, it must be approached with “zeal” in order not to be overwhelmed. It is their belief that most readers would be using the document for information about interpretation. However, they feel that they could not just hand it to their fellows and have any hope that it would be read.
We also believe that there is a significant interest in CPET, but many physicians find interpretation difficult. Therefore, to assist them, we have created an interpretation software program. The program is called XINT (exercise interpretation). The executable program is available free over the Internet at www.xint.org. The source code is open. This will allow physicians to review the logic and interpretive statements in detail and even make changes if desired. The program runs in a Windows environment (Microsoft; Redmond, WA) or on a Macintosh (Apple Computer; Cupertino, CA).
We have used XINT to interpret exercise data from actual patients, and have found it clinically useful. We have also used it on the case examples in the ATS/ACCP statement, and believe it gives results similar to those of the expert panel. It also provides a professional-looking report for the patient chart.
The program is being provided free to the medical community because we believe, as do the authors of the editorial, that assistance with interpretation will lead to greater utilization of CPET and improved patient care. Although a computer program can never substitute for a human, it can be of benefit.
In the not-too-distant future, computers will play an integral part in patient diagnosis and management. XINT is another small step in that direction.
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