Full Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT)
There are different reasons why your doctor may request a pulmonary function test. Ask your doctor about lung testing if you are older than 40 years and you are a current or former smoker who has either a chronic cough, wheeze, frequent sputum (i.e. bringing up mucous most days), frequent or lengthy colds, and/or shortness of breath while doing everyday chores.
Pulmonary function tests measure how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases (such as oxygen) from the atmosphere and into the body’s circulation. The test is performed when you breathe in through a mouth piece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer. The spirometer records the amount and rate of air that you breathe in and out over a period of time. For some of the test measurements you will breathe normally and quietly, other tests will require forced inhalations and exhalations after a deep breath.
Lung volumes can be measured in two ways. The most accurate way is to sit in a sealed clear box that looks like a telephone booth (body plethysmography), while you breathe in and out of a mouth piece. Changes of the pressure inside the box will help determine the lung volume.
Why the test is performed:
- To help diagnose certain lung diseases such as Asthma and COPD
- To find the cause of shortness of breath
- To measure whether exposure to contaminants at work are affecting lung function
- To assess the effects of certain medications
- To measure progress in disease treatment
How to prepare for the test:
- Do not eat heavy meals before the test
- Bring your Alberta Health Card
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time
- If you are running late, please let us know as we may still be able to accommodate you. If we do not hear from you, we may have to reschedule your appointment, as we have a large number of people to see each day.
- If you wear oxygen at home, you must bring it with you to your test. If your blood oxygen levels are too low when you arrive, it may not be safe to proceed with testing.
- Please do not smoke the day of the test as it may affect results
- No caffeinated beverages prior to testing.
- Unless absolutely necessary, do not use breathing medications prior to testing o No bronchodilators, such as Ventolin (blue), Salbutamol (blue), Atrovent (White, with green cap) o No Long acting bronchodilators, such as Advair (purple) or Symbicort (white with red base) o No Spiriva (Grey inhaler with white capsule that is inserted) -
- Continue to use Corticosteroids, such as Pulmicort (brown), or Flovent (orange)
- Bring a list of your current respiratory medications if you do not know the names or colours of them
- NO STRONG PERFUMES OR DEODARANTS
- We see many people on a daily basis with severe sensitivities to strong odours, please be mindful of them
This information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor; PulseAir disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on this information.