About the Test
A pulmonary function test is actually a series of tests that measure both the capacity and effectiveness of your lungs and the force of your breathing.
The following five individual tests make up the pulmonary function test:
- The first test measures the flow of air through your lungs. For this test you will sit in a large see-through box and breathe through a small mouthpiece and tube. The technician will talk to you during the test using an intercom. You will begin by breathing normally, then you will be asked to pant gently for a few seconds against a shutter which has been closed in the mouthpiece. This is repeated several times.
- The second test measures your normal breathing capacity. For this test you will breathe normally through a tube connected to a machine. You will be instructed to take a large breath in and blow out slowly until all your air is exhaled. This is repeated.
- The third test measures the force of your breathing. For this test you will breathe normally into the tube again and then you will be asked to take a big breath in then to blow all the air out as fast and hard as you can. Then you will breathe in - as fast, hard, and deep as you can. This is repeated several times. It is important to work as hard as you can for this test for the best results.
- The fourth test measures the largest amount of air that you can breathe per minute. You will breathe through the tube as fast and as deep as you can for 12 seconds. This test is repeated once after a short rest period.
- The fifth test is used to measure the ability of your lungs to absorb gases in the air. This test indicates how well the smallest areas of your lungs, or alveoli, are working. For this test you will breathe in through a mouthpiece and then blow your air out. You will then take a deep breath in again, hold it for 10 seconds, and then blow it out. This is repeated.
If You Are Scheduled for PFTs at UMMC
You will be directed to where your test will be done when your appointment is scheduled. If you have breathing medications, ask your physician if you should use them on the day of the test. Before the test begins, you will be asked several questions about your history of smoking , shortness of breath , coughing, asthma and so forth. A technician will be present through all the procedures and will tell you what to do. You should let the technician know if, at any time during the test, you experience discomfort or trouble breathing. Your physician may request an arterial blood gas. If this is ordered, a blood sample will be drawn. None of the other tests require a blood sample. The tests take about one hour to complete; when they are finished, you may go home or to your other appointments.
If you have additional questions related to an adult patient, please call area code (734) 936-5250.
If the patient is a child, please call area code (734) 936-9515.