Pulmonary Function Tests

Pulmonary Function Tests are various tests that measure the lung capacity and degree of obstruction or restriction.
Pulmonary function testing has diagnostic and therapeutic roles and helps clinicians answer some general questions about patients with lung disease.

Tests may be used to:

  • Diagnose certain types of lung disease i.e. Asthma, bronchitis, emphysema.
  • Distinguish between restrictive and obstructive lung disease.
  • Find the cause of shortness of breath.
  • Evaluate occupational exposure.
  • Assess lung status prior to surgery.
  • Track progress in disease management.
  • Evaluate the severity of lung disease.
  • Monitor the course of lung disease.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Pre Test Instructions:

  • You must refrain from smoking 4-6 hours prior to test.
  • Refrain from eating a heavy meal 2-4 hours prior to testing.
  • If possible, avoid using bronchodilators or other drugs for 24 hours prior to the test or as specified by your healthcare provider before this test.
  • Your practitioner will advise you of Specific Medication Avoidance required for Methacholine and Exercise Challenge.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict breathing.
  • Loose-fitting dentures may be removed.

What to expect during test:

  • Your age, sex, height, and weight are recorded in order to calculate expected test values.
  • A tight fitting clip is placed on your nose to prevent the air from escaping through the nostrils.
  • You will be asked to place your mouth tightly around a mouth piece and the therapist will instruct you to perform various breathing maneuvers: taking a deep breath, holding it briefly, panting, and/or forcefully blowing the air out through the mouthpiece.
  • Medication may be given to assess response to a bronchodilator.
  • Methacholine challenge requires administration via inhalation of a challenge agent.
  • Exercise challenge requires the patient to exercise on a treadmill or bicycle to achieve and sustain a target heart rate for a specified time.
  • Results of the test will be read by a pulmonologist. Your practitioner will follow up with results at your next appointment, or sooner if required.

Appointments are Required

Please contact Respiratory Care at 563-927-7354 to schedule your appointment. When you come for your appointment, enter through the Main Entrance on the west side of the hospital and register at Lab/Radiology/Respiratory Care, located just past the Auxiliary Gift Shop. Please wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes and bring a copy of your medications with you.

Please note that Exercise and Methacholine challenge test require special medication avoidance. Consult your practitioner with questions regarding questions on medication avoidance.