Pulmonary Function Testing

Pulmonary function testing, also called spirometry or lung function test, measures your ability to breathe and how efficiently gas is exchanged between your lungs and the rest of your body. It may be performed through the home health services for the elderly, bedbound, and those who cannot travel to the hospital.

It is ordered if you have symptoms of lung disease such as shortness of breath or wheezing, or as part of screening before surgery. Various lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, lung infections, emphysema, allergies and lung cancer can be diagnosed by pulmonary function testing.

During the test, you are asked to breathe normally or deeply into a well-fitted mouthpiece connected to a machine that assesses various aspects of your breathing and lung function. The test may be repeated after inhaling certain gases and receiving medications that open your lungs, to evaluate their effects on your breathing. There are usually no complications besides feeling a little faint from the breathing and an occasional asthma attack if you have a history of this condition.