Pulmonary Function Testing Performed in office. Results documented and discussed with the patient or relevant care representative.
A Pulmonary Function Test, or PFT as it is generally called, measures an individual's lung capacity and overall pulmonary health. It is generally used as a screen of respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema. The test can determine the cause of shortness of breath or other symptoms you are experiencing. You may be familiar with the test from hospital visits as well since they are often done prior or after surgery to ensure people have no lung complications.
Why get a PFT?
Pulmonary function tests can help us learn about and diagnose a range of respiratory diseases which might not otherwise be obvious. The tests are important since many kinds of lung problems can be successfully treated if detected early. The tests are also used to measure the progression of a known lung condition or how serious the lung disease has become. Pulmonary function tests also can be used to assess how you are responding to different treatments.
A Special Message for Smokers
If you smoke and are curious to see how much your lung capacity has diminished or would like to check for the first signs of emphysema, a PFT is a good place to start. We also encourage you to quit now and have very helpful programs that really work.
What exactly is tested and how?
A typical pulmonary function tests is called "spirometry" which measures how much and how fast the air is moving in and out of your lungs. Specific measurements taken during the test include the volume of air from start to finish, the fastest flow that is achieved, and the volume of air exhaled in the first second of the test. A peak flow meter can determine how much a patient's airways have narrowed.
PFT workups also include a test of blood gases. This test measures the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, which shows how efficient the gas exchange is in the lungs.
Another lung function test reveals how efficient the lungs are in absorbing gas from the blood. This is measured by testing the volume of carbon monoxide a person breathes out after a known volume of the gas has been inhaled.
PFTs shouldn't be given to patients who have had a recent heart attack, or who have certain other types of heart disease. Otherwise, all PFT tests are considered safe for all patients and pose no known risks. If you have lung disease there is an elevated risk, so please make sure you advise us if you have had recent or chronic lung problems.
What is it like to experience the test?
Our staff will places a clip over your nose and ask you to only breathe through your mouth into a tube connected to a machine known as a spirometer. First you will breathe in deeply, and then exhales as quickly and forcefully as possible into the tube. The exhale must last at least six seconds for the machine to work properly. Usually we need to have you do this three times, and the best of the three results is considered to be the measure of the lung function. The results will help a doctor figure out which type of treatment to pursue. You will also have a device called and oximeter clipped on your finger which will advise your physician of your dissolved gases in you blood (Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide).
You should not eat a heavy meal before the test, nor smoke for four to six hours beforehand. Please advise us of any medications you are taking and please do not use any bronchodilators or inhalers, unless necessary before the test. Sometimes, medication may be administered as part of the test.
Normal results are expressed as a percentage of the predicted lung capacity. The prediction takes into account your age, height, and gender. Abnormal results Abnormal results mean that your lung capacity is less than 80% of the predicted value. Such findings usually mean that there is some degree of chest or lung disease.