Lung Function Testing

The Purpose of Lung Function Testing

Lung function tests help respiratory physicians to understand, diagnose, evaluate and monitor respiratory conditions.

Here at Respiratory SA, we make it our priority to ensure that your testing experience is as comfortable as possible. We are committed to providing a high quality, professional service in a comfortable environment.

All tests are performed according to ATS/ERS recommendations. To accurately understand and assess your results, your data will be compared to a set of established reference values for healthy individuals. These reference values are determined from your age, gender and height.

What you should expect at your appointment?

A friendly respiratory technician will check your height and weight, and ask questions about your respiratory history (smoking, inhalers used, allergies etc.).  They will then explain, demonstrate and guide you through each test in a simple and easy to understand manner, to help you achieve high quality results. It is important to note that the accuracy of these is also dependent on your effort. The manoeuvres need to be performed several times to ensure we obtain accurate results. The most important thing you can do is to remain calm and relaxed and we will help you achieve the best results on the day. To help you feel more comfortable, we encourage you to bring a spouse, friend or relative to your appointment.

Depending on the test the doctor has requested, you should allow for up to an hour for your lung function test appointment.  Your results will be reviewed and reported on by one of our respiratory physicians and then sent to your refrerring doctor, usually within 48 hours. Urgent studies can be reported on the same day, if required.

Please view our "FAQ" page for test durations or ask our staff when booking for more details.

 

Patient Pre-test Instructions

To achieve accurate results it is important to follow specific instructions for each test.

Please withhold the respiratory medications for the time periods outlined in the table below.

  • Take all your other medications as normal.

  • We also ask that you don't smoke on the day of the test (at least 4 hours prior).
  • Comfortable clothing and walking shoes are recommended for the six minute walk test.
  • You are NOT required to fast on the day.

Please refer to each specific test for more detailed instructions.

If you are unsure about which medications you should withhold, please contact us on (08) 8287 2040.

Test Do not use Medications listed below prior to your tests Do Not Use

Spirometry
Diffusing Capacity
& Lung Volumes tests

Ventolin, Bricanyl, Airomir, Asmol, Atrovent

6 hours

Seretide, Symbicort, Bretaris, Brimica, Flutiform, Duoresp, Serevent, Oxis, Fluticasone + Salmeterol Cipla, Nuelin SR 12 hours
Spiriva, Spiolto, Onbrez, Seebri, Ultibro, Anoro, Breo, Incruse, Trelegy, Intal 24 hours

Mannitol Challenge  and Hypertonic Saline Challenge

Ventolin, Bricanyl, Airomir, Asmol

6 hours

Qvar, Pulmicort, Flixotide, Fluticasone Cipla, Atrovent 12 hours
Seretide, Symbicort, Bretaris, Brimica, Flutiform, Duoresp, Serevent, Oxis, Fluticasone + Salmeterol Cipla, Nuelin SR 24 hours
Spiriva, Spiolto, Onbrez, Seebri, Ultibro, Anoro, Breo, Incruse, Trelegy, Intal
& ALL ANTI-HISTAMINES (Telfast, Zyrtec, Claratyne, Polaramine, Phenergen etc)
72 hours

6 Minute Walk Test and
High Altitude Simulation Test

Please take all medications as usual INCLUDING INHALERS
Do not wear nail polish

-

Rhinomanometry

No medicated nasal sprays

24 hours

Testing & Reporting

All tests are conducted by a trained and experienced respiratory technician and reported on by a Respiratory Physician.

Results are forwarded to the referring doctor, usually via fax, and are typically sent within 48 hours.  If possible, urgent studies can be reported on the same day, please advise staff when booking.

If you want to know more about what will happen on the day of your appointment, please proceed to our "Frequently Asked Questions" page.

Available Tests

  • Spirometry (Flow Volume Curves) with  (Pre and Post Bronchodilator)
  • Diffusing Capacity (includes haemoglobin measurement via a HemoCue device)
  • Static Lung Volumes (via Body Plethysmography)
  • Arterial Blood Gases (via Clinpath  - Pathology request form required)
  • Hypertonic Saline Indirect Challenge (HSC)
  • Mannitol Indirect Challenge
  • 6 Minute Walk Test
  • High Altitude Simulation Test
  • Rhinomanometry

Detailed Test Information

Standard Lung Function

Spirometry (30 minutes):

Purpose: To measure how quickly and effectively the lungs can be filled and emptied. These measures, termed flow volume loops, are conducted before and after bronchodilator. A bronchodilator acts to open up the bronchial tubes (air passages) of the lungs.  This test is particularly important in the diagnosis and management of certain obstructive disorders including asthma and emphysema as well as other lung disorders.

Diffusing Capacity:

Purpose:  Measures the rate at which gas is transferred from the lungs into the blood stream. This provides information on the effectiveness of the alveolocapillary membrane, particularly important for smokers or ex-smokers and patients with an interstitial lung disease. Additonally, a blood sample obtained from a finger prick is taken to measure haemoglobin levels. Haemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to the body.

Static Lung Volumes:

Purpose: To measure sub-divisions of the lung and to determine overall lung capacity. This is useful in diagnosing a variety of lung disorders where lung volumes are increased (indicating gas trapping or hyperinflation) and restrictive disorders where volumes are reduced.

Full Lung Function Test (45 minutes)    Includes Spirometry, Diffusing Capacity & Static Lung Volumes

Specialised Tests

Hypertonic Saline Challenge (HSC) (1 hour):

Purpose: The Hypertonic Saline Challenge is designed to identify airway hyper-activity. A saline (salty) vapour is inhaled at gradually increasing doses with bronchial flow (spirometry) monitored at each step (i.e. how quickly and effectively your lungs can be filled and emptied). The saline solution has a dehydrating effect on the airways and in some people, this causes bronchoconstriction or airway narrowing. This test is particularly useful if asthma is suspected and previous spirometry results are normal.

Mannitol Challenge (1 hour):

Purpose: This test is particularly useful is assessing airway hyper-activity commonly associated with asthma. A sugar-based fine powder is inhaled in gradually increasing doses with bronchial flow (spirometry) monitored at each step (i.e. how quickly and effectively your lungs can be filled and emptied). The sugar powder has a dehydrating effect on the airways and in some people, this causes bronchoconstriction or airway narrowing. This test is particularly useful if asthma is suspected and previous spirometry results are normal.

6 Minute Walk Test (45 minutes): - for the assessment of supplemental oxygen   

Purpose: The test provides a semi-quantitative measurement of a patient's exercise capacity and is often used to determine the extent of oxygen desaturation during sub-maximal exercise. It evaluates whether supplementary oxygen will improve a patient's exercise ability.  NO treadmill involved.

Patient Preparation:

1. Comfortable clothing should be worn including appropriate walking shoes.

2. Take all of your usual medication including any respiratory inhalers.

3. Patients should not exercise vigourously within 2 hours prior to testing.

4. No nail polish.

High Altitude Simulation Test  

Purpose: You may be referred for this test if your doctor suspects that your respiratory disease will adversely affect your ability to maintain safe levels of blood oxygen on a commercial aircraft. Blood samples are taken from an artery before and after breathing in air with lowered oxygen levels, and pulse oximetry is monitored throughout.

Arterial Blood Gases (via Clinpath)

Purpose: Measures the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood stream as well as other components of blood chemistry, including bicarbonate levels and blood pH.  The blood sample is collected from an artery.

***  This needs to be booked in at a Clinpath Laboratory prior to your lung function test. The results is then added to your lung function test report.

Rhinomanometry (30 minutes):

Purpose: This is used to assess the nasal airflow and resistance of each nostril. Both baseline and dilation measurements can be obtained. Dilation is achieved via the administration of a nasal decongestant allowing investigation of reversibility of rhinitis / congestion or resistance of an anatomical obstruction. This test can be useful for the diagnosis and treatment of nasal congestion and as an aid to guide effective CPAP application.

Fees

A fee estimate will be provided at the time of booking. All accounts are payable in full on the day. Pensioner and health care card concession holders are bulk billed when referred for lung function testing only (ie. this policy does not include consultations). We accept cash, cheques, EFTPOS, Visa, MasterCard and DVA Gold Card.

A Medicare rebate applies to all tests except if they are associated with employment or recreational medical examinations.   GST is additionally charged for all pre-employment or recreational tests.

Private health insurance does not cover lung function testing.