Pulmonary function testing (PFT) spans an array of tests. However, they share a common goal: measuring how well your lungs work.
Some tests measure air flow, while others measure lung volumes, the adequacy of gas exchange in the lungs, oxygen saturation, and endurance. These tests are valuable not only in disease diagnosis but also following disease activity and response to treatment. Some typical PFT tests are included here. The purpose for the test will be unique to you.
- Spirometry. This test measures your airflow and estimates lung capacity. It involves you breathing into a tube connected to a computer at regular and maximum effort.
- Lung volume test. This test is similar to the spirometry except that it more accurately assesses your lung volumes.
- Lung diffusion capacity. This test measures gas exchange and the ability of the lungs to adequately absorb oxygen.
- Pulse oximetry. This test estimates the oxygen saturation of the blood using a small probe placed on finger. This is routinely checked at each visit to your pulmonary doctor.
- Arterial blood gas. The arterial blood gas test measures oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood as well as pH or acid/base balance.
- 6-minute walk test. This test is routinely done in the office and helps to determine exercise capacity and oxygen saturation with exercise. This can be used to follow response to treatment of various pulmonary diseases.
Depending on your pulmonary disease or condition, the doctor may order one or more of the above pulmonary function tests.
The doctor typically would then ask for follow-up testing, similar to how you might get your thyroid levels checked annually or every few months. He or she uses the results to benchmark your condition against expected lung function; to assess if the medical condition is improving, stable, or worsening; and to make sure your care and management plan is working. Also, if you are preparing for surgery, a doctor will order PFT tests as part of your preoperative pulmonary evaluation.
To set up an appointment with Pulmonary Austin, call our North Office at (512) 977-0123 or South Office at (512) 441-9799.
Click here for additional information about pulmonary function testing.