Lung function testing

  • Spirometry
  • Lung volumes
  • Pulmonary gas transfer
  • Exhaled nitric oxide
  • Airway responsiveness to mannitol
  • Serial peak flow 
  • Oximetry

What is lung function testing?

These are detailed tests of how the lungs are working, able to measure the size of the lungs, how efficient they are, oxygen levels in the blood, and whether the airways are inflamed or narrowed.

How does it work?

The tests are usually performed in a controlled hospital setting and mainly involve blowing into a tube connected to a machine.

What are the benefits?

These tests can provide important information about the lungs, particularly as to identifying which part of the lungs is responsible for symptoms, and how severe the problem is. They are useful in diagnosis and management of a wide range of diseases including asthma, COPD, and lung fibrosis. Modern tests can measure inflammation in the airways (exhaled nitric oxide) and levels of airway responsiveness (mannitol challenge), which can give important additional information for patients with asthma. Repeating such tests and comparing periods at work and away from work, can also help identify breathing problems caused or made worse by work.

How safe is the treatment?

These are diagnostic tests which are carried out on a daily basis by trained physiologists throughout the UK and are very safe. Individuals are carefully screened before such tests are carried out to ensure patient safety at all times.

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