Pulmonary Function Testing
The Pulmonary Physiology Laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility designed predominantly to assist in the diagnosis and management of cardiopulmonary disease. The laboratory has the capacity to perform the full range of routine and specialized lung function tests including:
- Spirometry (measurement of the amount (volume) and/or speed (flow) of air that can be inhaled and exhaled)
- Plethysmography (lung volumes)
- Diffusing capacity (to assess gas exchange)
- Methacholine challenge testing (the diagnostic test for asthma)
- Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (this is a bicycle “stress” test that determines whether a patient’s exercise capacity is normal or reduced. The test can distinguish different causes of exercise limitation including cardiac disease, lung disease, muscle weakness, deconditioning or psychogenic illness. It can also be used to ascertain one’s level of fitness.)
- Six minute walk test (this is another measure of functional exercise capacity in patients with heart or lung disease and involves measuring the distance walked in six minutes)
- Arterial blood gases
- Pulse oximetry (a non-invasive method of measuring the percent of hemoglobin molecules bound to oxygen)
- Measures of respiratory muscle strength (can be helpful in neuromuscular diseases such as Myasthenia Gravis)
- Flow volume loops to assess for upper airway obstruction
Pulmonary function testing can be helpful in a variety of disease states such as asthma, COPD, Interstitial Lung Disease, and upper airway obstruction.
These tests are also employed to investigate symptoms of cough, shortness of breath and wheezing. They can be used to monitor for drug toxicity and are to assess a patient's ability to undergo surgery or transplantation.