Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are non-invasive tests designed to evaluate how well the lungs are performing and if there are any respiratory abnormalities present. The results of pulmonary function tests can be used to help diagnose lung diseases and monitor the progress of various lung conditions.
To prepare for pulmonary function testing, you should avoid any activities that may disturb your lung function in the hours prior to your visit. This includes activities such as exercising, smoking, or eating a large meal, all of which may worsen lung function prior to testing. You will also be instructed to stop using inhaler medications or bronchodilators for a period of time before your visit.
Northern Lung Function offers many different pulmonary function tests.
Some of the most common ones are:
Spirometry assesses how well the lungs work by measuring inhalation and exhalation. During a spirometry test, the patient breathes into a mouthpiece that records the amount of air breathed in and out over time. Normal inhalation and exhalation may be tested, as well as forceful inhalation and exhalation. Sometimes, spirometry tests will be performed in conjunction with use of a bronchodilator, which is a medication that relaxes the bronchial muscles, making it easier for air to pass through the lungs. Pre- and post-bronchodilator spirometry tests allow for comparisons which help diagnose or confirm restrictions in the airway. Our staff uses charts called Flow-Volume loops to interpret spirometry results.
Lung volume measurement tests assess how much air the lungs can hold. These tests are done using body plethysmography, which is a method where the patient sits in a sealed, clear box while inhaling and exhaling into a mouthpiece. Lung volume can be evaluated by measuring the changes in pressure inside the box as the person breathes. Lung volume measurement detects diseases that restrict a person from inhaling a normal amount of air.
Diffusion capacity tests measure how efficiently the lungs transfer oxygen to the bloodstream. During a diffusion capacity test, the patient breathes in a small amount of carbon monoxide for a short period of time, and then the carbon monoxide in the exhaled air is measured. Comparing the amount of carbon monoxide inhaled to the amount exhaled gives an estimate of how quickly the gas is moving from the lungs to the blood.
Oximetry measures the oxygen level in a person’s blood. A clip-like sensor is attached to the patient’s finger or earlobe, which is able to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Oximetry tests may be done either while the patient is at rest or while walking.
Many of our locations offer sleep studies, which may be recommended for patients with suspected sleep disorders such as obstructive or central sleep apnea.
Northern Lung Function offers Respiratory and Internal Medicine Specialist consultations at our West End, Southside and Downtown locations. Contact us for an appointment with one of our specialists.
Our professional and knowledgeable staff members offer respiratory education services for our Asthma and COPD patients to learn more about their condition and treatment options. Contact us to learn more about our education services.