Why Are Pulmonary Function Tests Done? Types of Pulmonary Tests

Why Are Pulmonary Function Tests Done Type of Pulmonary Test


Pulmonary function tests are special lung tests conducted to determine your lungs’ functioning. PFTs are non-invasive and painless tests, which means that your pulmonologist won’t cut off any of your body parts or intervene in your body with any surgical tool.

Reasons for Conducting A Pulmonary Function Test

Essentially, pulmonary function tests help in ruling out different lung diseases as follows;

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Worn out lungs
  • Lung diseases caused by asbestos
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung Infections
  • Widened airways
  • Scleroderma
  • Chest muscle weakness

A proper and correct diagnosis is very important to curate a definite treatment plan.

Different Types of Pulmonary Tests

Several kinds of pulmonary tests can work differently. Your pulmonologist can opt for any pulmonary test to figure out the findings they are looking for. Following are the different types of pulmonary function tests that can be conducted accordingly.

  • Spirometry
  • Body plethysmography
  • Lung diffusion capacity
  • Bronchial provocation test
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise stress test
  • Pulse oximetry test
  • Arterial blood gas test
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide test


It is one of the most commonly used pulmonary function tests. Spirometry tends to measure and calculate the amount of air that you have taken in and out. Simultaneously, it also calculates at what speed your body is capable of emptying the air of your lungs.

Spirometry largely helps in determining and recognizing breathing issues such as asthma and COPD. If a patient is on an asthma medicinal routine, then it can assist the doctor in learning if the medicine is properly working or not.

During the spirometry test, the patient can breathe in as much air as possible. After that, the patient will blow out air via a tube connected to the testing machine known as a spirometer.

Spirometry gives the following calculated results.

The extent of air that you have breathed in and out, particularly after a deep breath. The results will help your doctor learn that if you are breathing less than normal.

The amount of air you can exhale in one second. The resulting score will depict how serious is your breathing problem.

Body plethysmography

In the process of body plethysmography, the patient is meant to breathe deeply to estimate how much air is inside the lungs when they inhale. This test also helps in checking how much air remains inside your lungs once you exhale.

Body plethysmography is used for the following reasons.

Your pulmonologist can order this test to rule out COPD and asthma if it is suspicious. This test can also indicate if your treatment regime needs to change or not.

This test confirms whether you are suffering from a lung disease that gradually decreases the space in your lungs. It can be a lung restricted disease.

It can depict if the airways are shrunk or not. If that is ruled out, then your doctor can decide if prescribing bronchodilators can be of any help to the patient.

The need for surgical intervention can also be ruled out via this test.

Body plethysmography is painless and takes only about 15 to 20 minutes. During this process, the patient is asked to sit in a clear plastic bag, wears a nose clip, and then take deep breaths through the mouth. Breathing via mouth is by a special mouthpiece.

Lung Diffusion Capacity

The lung diffusion capacity test determines how smoothly oxygen moves from your lungs into your bloodstream.

This test is very much similar to spirometry. The patient is supposed to breathe into a tube that is connected to a machine. If there is an existing disease between your heart and lung, then this test will be able to catch the diagnosis. This test is largely helpful in diagnosing emphysema and the related damage that has been done to the lungs, especially air sacs.

Bronchial Provocation Test

If you suffer from asthma, external factors like smoke, dust, or aggressive exercise can worsen it. Patients can struggle to breathe largely. A bronchial provocation test can aid in making a definite diagnosis of asthma.

During the test, the patient inhales a medicine that narrows down the airways. After that, a spirometry test is undertaken. The test is performed quite a few times. In this way, your doctor will be able to learn to which extent your airways can narrow down during an asthma attack.

Cardiopulmonary Exercise Stress Test

The strength of the lungs and heart is measure via a cardiopulmonary exercise stress test. It is usually given to people battling heart and lung diseases. These conditions can be evident, particularly during exercise.

During the test, the patient walks on a treadmill or rides a static cycle. As a result, the physician can keep an eye on the heart rate as your heart will race faster and faster. The patient supposedly breathes into a tube that monitors your lungs as they function and work harder.

Pulse Oximetry Test

This test is used to measure the amount of oxygen that is present inside your blood. The doctor attaches a probe to the patient’s finger, earlobes, or any other part of the skin. The pulse oximeter then uses light to measure the oxygen levels in your red blood cells.

Arterial Blood Gas Tests (ABGs)

In this test, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are measure in your blood. The blood is drawn from one of the patient’s arteries. The patient will customarily go to the doctor’s office; the nurse will draw the blood via a needle. Most of the time, Blood is taken from the wrist.. It will slightly hurt, and the patient might bleed only where the needle went in.

Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide Test

Due to different kinds of asthma, patients can develop higher levels of nitric oxide in their bodies. The fractional exhaled nitric oxide test calculates the amount of nitric oxide in the air that you have breathed out.

The patient breathes in and out at a slower pace in a tube that is attaches to a small, portable device.

How to Prepare for Pulmonary Function Tests

This is how you should prepare for a pulmonary function test for excellent results.

  • Take your usual medicines before the test
  • Halt your smoking for a while
  • Don’t use an inhaler for 8 hours before the test
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Don’t eat large junk meals
  • Wait to exercise aggressively half an hour before the test.

Pulmonary Function Test Results

The following are the factors that can affect the results of pulmonary function tests.

How better are you following the medical team’s guidelines

  • Medicines that impart an effect on your airways
  • Pain killers
  • Pregnancy
  • Stomach bloating
  • Extreme fatigue

Usually, the result of a pulmonary function test depends on your age, height, and gender. A result that is not normal means that you are suffering from a respiratory issue. Your doctor will explain and advise you on the further actions that must be performed to address the problem.

Pulmonary Function Test Risks

Pulmonary function test comes with the following risks.

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • An asthma attack

Contraindications of PFTs

A pulmonary function test is not advised in the following conditions

  • Eye surgery
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Chest pain
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Tuberculosis
  • Respiratory infection


If you are suffering from any lung disease and want a pulmonary function test, get the best pulmonary treatment at lung and sleep center in Michigan. Take the first step towards a better and healthy lifestyle.

DISCLAIMER : This and other personal blog posts are not reviewed, monitored or endorsed by Blogjab. The content is solely the view of the author and Blogjab is not responsible for the authenticity of content of this post in any way. Our curated content which is handpicked by our editorial team may be viewed here.


I’m a professional web hosting Analyst in the USA. For the past 15 years, I've been helping the business owner to choose the best web hosting for their website. Apart from my profession, I love to write blogs, articles, and guides on web hosting services.

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