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Pulmonary Function Testing

Patients who have lung disorders or are having trouble with their breathing will often be recommended a pulmonary function test. Here at Carthage Area Hospital, we use these tests to determine whether there’s something wrong with the function of the patient’s lungs and to identify potential lung disorders as well. The following are some of the things that you should know about pulmonary function tests.

What are Pulmonary Function Tests?

Pulmonary function tests consist of several different tests that measure how effectively a patient is able to inhale and exhale as well as how efficiently oxygen is transferred into their blood. The following are the pulmonary function tests used here at Carthage Area Hospital:

  • Spirometry Tests – Spirometry tests are often used to diagnose certain types of lung disorders as well as for assessing obstructive lung diseases, including asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Patients blow into a spirometer instrument, which records the rate of air that’s breathed in and out over a specific amount of time.
  • Lung Volume Measurement Tests – Lung volume measurement identifies restrictive lung diseases, which make it difficult for the patient to inhale a normal volume of air. There are two types of pulmonary function tests that measure lung volume. The first is through a body plethysmograph, which requires the patient to sit in an enclosed booth. The pressure inside the booth changes as the patient breathes into a mouthpiece, allowing doctors to determine lung volume. The second is through a test in which the patient breathes nitrogen or helium gas through a tube for a specific amount of time.
  • Diffusion Capacity Tests – A diffusion capacity test requires the patient to breath carbon monoxide (CO) for a very short period of time. In some cases, just a single breath will do. We will then measure the concentration of CO in the air that was exhaled. By measuring the amount of CO inhaled versus the amount exhaled, the speed at which gas can travel from the patient’s blood into their lungs can be measured.
    Besides using these pulmonary function tests to evaluate potential respiratory impairments, they can also be used to identify certain lung disorders, including asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, bronchitis, emphysema, sarcoidosis and COPD.

Preparing for a Pulmonary Function Test

If you are scheduled for a pulmonary function test, then you’ll need to follow these directions to prepare for it:

  • Avoid eating a heavy meal before the test.
  • Avoid smoking four to six hours before the test.
  • Follow any instructions regarding medications. You may have to avoid using certain bronchodilator medications before the test.

For more information about our pulmonary function testing services, contact us at Carthage Area Hospital today.