Pulmonary function testing (PFT) assesses how well your lungs work at rest and under various degrees of stress. They help determine if labored or inadequate breathing is due to problems within the lungs and breathing tubes or to weakness in the nerves and muscles that inflate the lungs with air.
The forced expiratory nitric oxide test (FeNO) is designed to measure airway inflammation and is useful in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma. Pulmonary function testing is often used:
- To diagnose lung diseases like asthma and COPD
- To assess the effect of exercise on breathing and lung function
- To monitor the course of chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD over time
- To assess the response of the lungs to new treatments and medications
- To assess the adequacy of lung function prior to surgery
What Can PFTs Diagnose?
PFT alone cannot diagnose disease but assists the physician in making a diagnosis or monitoring disease progress. PFTs can help diagnose conditions like:
- Chronic Bronchitis
- COPD (emphysema)
- Restrictive lung diseases due to weakened muscles or nerves
What Should I Expect?
Pulmonary functions tests are not painful. The nurse will assist you in achieving maximal efforts in blowing air out and breathing in. Each test is repeated several times to improve accuracy of results.
Before performing pulmonary function testing you may be advised to:
- Withhold some medications that may affect results
- If you use a short-acting rescue inhaler like albuterol, levalbuterol, or ipratropium, try not to use it for 6-8 hours before testing, if at all possible