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Pulmonary Function Testing

Pulmonary function tests show how well lungs are functioning to help providers diagnose and treat lung disorders. The noninvasive tests help determine how much air the lungs can hold, how quickly patients can move air in and out of the lungs, and how well the lungs can remove carbon dioxide from the blood.

What happens during pulmonary function test?

Pulmonary function tests (also called lung function test) are not painful. While procedures can vary depending on a patient’s needs or the provider’s preferences, during a typical pulmonary function test patients are asked to:

  • Loosen tight clothing, jewelry or other things that could cause problem during the procedure.
  • Keep dentures in – if applicable – during the procedure.
  • Empty bladders before the procedure.

To schedule a pulmonary function test, contact your pulmonologist, primary care provider or the SAH Pulmonary Rehab Office at 402-269-7638.

During the Test

Patients are seated during pulmonary function tests.

  • A soft clip is placed on the nose so all of breathing can be done through the mouth.
  • A sterile mouthpiece that’s attached to a spirometer – an instrument used to measure air in the lungs – is placed in the mouth. Patients form a tight seal over the mouthpiece and are instructed to inhale and exhale in different ways.
  • Patients are closely monitored for dizziness, difficulties breathing and other concerns.
  • A bronchodilator – a type of medication that relaxes and widens the airways to make breathing easier – may be given after some tests. The tests will then be repeated a few minutes later, after the bronchodilator has taken effect.

How to prepare for pulmonary function tests

Before any testing at Syracuse Area Health, providers explain what will happen during the procedure and answer any questions. Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, herbal supplements and vitamins. Height and weight are recorded before testing so results can be accurately calculated.

Before a pulmonary function test:

  • Stop taking medications – if instructed by your healthcare provider
  • Stop smoking – if instructed by your provider – before the test. Ask your provider how many hours before the test you need to stop smoking.
  • Refrain from eating a heavy meal prior to testing
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you
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