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Documentation of Chronic Impairment of Gas Exchange

  1. Diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide (DLCO). A diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide study should be purchased in cases in which there is documentation of chronic pulmonary disease, but the existing evidence, including properly performed spirometry, is not adequate to establish the level of functional impairment. Before purchasing DLCO measurements, the medical history, physical examination, reports of chest x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, and spirometric test results must be obtained and reviewed because favorable decisions can often be made based on available evidence without the need for DLCO studies. Purchase of a DLCO study may be appropriate when there is a question of whether an impairment meets or is equivalent in severity to a listing, and the claim cannot otherwise be favorably decided. The DLCO should be measured by the single breath technique with the individual relaxed and seated. At sea level, the inspired gas mixture should contain approximately 0.3 percent carbon monoxide (CO), 10 percent helium (He), 21 percent oxygen (O2), and the balance, nitrogen. At altitudes above sea level, the inspired O2 concentration may be raised to provide an inspired O2 tension of approximately 150 mm Hg. Alternatively, the sea level mixture may be employed at altitude and the measured DLCO corrected for ambient barometric pressure. Helium may be replaced by another inert gas at an appropriate concentration.The inspired volume (VI) during the DLCO maneuver should be at least 90 percent of the previously determined vital capacity (VC). The inspiratory time for the VI should be less than 2 seconds, and the breath-hold time should be between 9 and 11 seconds. The washout volume should be between 0.75 and 1.00 L, unless the VC is less than 2 L. In this case, the washout volume may be reduced to 0.50 L; any such change should be noted in the report. The alveolar sample volume should be between 0.5 and 1.0 L and be collected in less than 3 seconds. At least 4 minutes should be allowed for gas washout between repeat studies. A DLCO should be reported in units of ml CO, standard temperature, pressure, dry (STPD)/min/mm Hg uncorrected for hemoglobin concentration and be based on a single-breath alveolar volume determination. Abnormal hemoglobin or hematocrit values, and/or carboxyhemoglobin levels should be reported along with diffusing capacity. The DLCO value used for adjudication should represent the mean of at least two acceptable measurements, as defined above. In addition, two acceptable tests should be within 10 percent of each other or 3 ml CO(STPD)min/mm Hg, whichever is larger. The percent difference should be calculated as:  100 x (test 1 - test 2)/average DLCO. The ability of the individual to follow directions and perform the test properly should be described in the written report. The report should include tracings of the VI, breath-hold maneuver, and VE appropriately labeled with the name of the individual and the date of the test. The time axis should be at least 20 mm/sec and the volume axis at least 10 mm/L.  The percentage concentrations of inspired O2 and inspired and expired CO and He for each of the maneuvers should be provided.  Sufficient data must be provided, including documentation of the source of the predicted equation, to permit verification that the test was performed adequately, and that, if necessary, corrections for anemia or carboxyhemoglobin were made appropriately.
  2. Arterial blood gas studies (ABGS). An ABGS performed at rest (while breathing room air, awake and sitting or standing) or during exercise should be analyzed in a laboratory certified by a State or Federal agency. If the laboratory is not certified, it must submit evidence of participation in a national proficiency testing program as well as acceptable quality control at the time of testing. The report should include the altitude of the facility and the barometric pressure on the date of analysis. Purchase of resting ABGS may be appropriate when there is a question of whether an impairment meets or is equivalent in severity to a listing, and the claim cannot otherwise be favorably decided. If the results of a DLCO study are greater than 40 percent of predicted normal but less than 60 percent of predicted normal, purchase of resting ABGS should be considered. Before purchasing resting ABGS, a program physician, preferably one experienced in the care of patients with pulmonary disease, must review all clinical and laboratory data short of this procedure, including spirometry, to determine whether obtaining the test would present a significant risk to the individual.
  3. Exercise testing. Exercise testing with measurement of arterial blood gases during exercise may be appropriate in cases in which there is documentation of chronic pulmonary disease, but full development, short of exercise testing, is not adequate to establish if the impairment meets or is equivalent in severity to a listing, and the claim cannot otherwise be favorably decided. In this context, "full development" means that results from spirometry and measurement of DLCO and resting ABGS have been obtained from treating sources or through purchase. Exercise arterial blood gas measurements will be required infrequently and should be purchased only after careful review of the medical history, physical examination, chest x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, spirometry, DLCO, electrocardiogram (ECG), hernatocrit or hemoglobin, and resting blood gas results by a program physician, preferably one experienced in the care of patients with pulmonary disease, to determine whether obtaining the test would present a significant risk to the individual. Oximetry and capillary blood gas analysis are not acceptable substitutes for the measurement of arterial blood gases. Arterial blood gas samples obtained after the completion of exercise are not acceptable for establishing an individual's functional capacity. Generally, individuals with a DLCO greater than 60 percent of predicted normal would not be considered for exercise testing with measurement of blood gas studies. The exercise test facility must be provided with the claimant's clinical records, reports of chest x-ray or other appropriate imaging techniques, and any spirometry, DLCO, and resting blood gas results obtained as evidence of record. The testing facility must determine whether exercise testing presents a significant risk to the individual; if it does, the reason for not performing the test must be reported in writing.
  4. Methodology. Individuals considered for exercise testing first should have resting arterial blood partial pressure of oxygen (P02), resting arterial blood partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PC02) and negative log of hydrogen ion concentration (pH) determinations by the testing facility. The sample should be obtained in either the sitting or standing position. The individual should then perform exercise under steady state conditions, preferably on treadmill, breathing room air, for a period of 4 to 6 minutes at a speed and grade providing an Oxygen consumption of approximately 17.5 ml/kg/ min (5 METs). If a bicycle ergometer is used, an exercise equivalent of 5 METs (e.g., 450 kpm/min, or 75 watts for a 176 pound (80 kilogram) person) should be used. If the individual is able to complete this level of exercise without achieving listing-level hypoxemia, then he or she should be exercised at higher workloads to determine exercise capacity. A warm-up period of treadmill walking or cycling may be performed to acquaint the individual with the exercise procedure. If during the warm-up period the individual cannot achieve an exercise level of 5 METs, a lower workload may be selected in keeping with the estimate of exercise capacity. The individual should be monitored by ECG throughout the exercise and in the immediate post-exercise period. Blood pressure and an ECG should be recorded during each minute of exercise. During the final 2 minutes of a specific level of steady state exercise, an arterial blood sample should be drawn and analyzed for oxygen pressure (or tension) (PO2), carbon dioxide pressure (or tension) (PCO2), and pH. At the discretion of the testing facility, the sample may be obtained either from an indwelling arterial catheter or by direct arterial puncture. If possible, in order to evaluate exercise capacity more accurately, a test site should be selected that has the capability to measure minute ventilation, O2 consumption, and carbon dioxide (CO2) production. If the claimant fails to complete 4 to 6 minutes of steady state exercise, the testing laboratory should comment on the reason and report the actual duration and levels of exercise performed. This comment is necessary to determine if the individual 's test performance was limited by lack of effort or other impairment (e.g., cardiac, peripheral vascular, musculoskeletal, neurological). The exercise test report should contain representative ECG strips taken before, during and after exercise; resting and exercise arterial blood gas values; treadmill speed and grade settings, or, if a bicycle ergometer was used, exercise levels expressed in watts or kpm/min; and the duration of exercise. Body weight also should be recorded. If measured, O2 consumption (STPD), minute ventilation (BTPS), and CO2 production (STPD) also should be reported. The altitude of the test site, its normal range of blood gas values, and the barometric pressure on the test date must be noted.

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You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485
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Call Social Security Professionals now to discuss your claim for free

You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485
FREE CONSULTATION

Southfield Lawyer Donald Peters of the Law Office of Donald H. Peters, P.C. in Southfield, Michigan, handles Social Security Disability claims throughout Michigan and in the Tri-County Metro Detroit area including Detroit, Southfield, Novi, Warren, Royal Oak, Roseville, Livonia, Mount Clemens, Sterling Heights, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, Berkley, Oak Park, West Bloomfield, Ann Arbor, Eastpointe, Waterford, Flint, Canton, Taylor, Romulus, Westland, Clinton Township, Troy, Dearborn, Brighton, Howell, Pontiac, Rochester Hills,  as well as Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County, Ingham County, and Livingston County, Michigan.

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