Pressure Volume Study

The pressure volume study measures how well you are breathing. There are different types of breathing tests that can be done during the pressure volume study. They include spirometry, lung volumes, and transpulmonary pressure. Spirometry can show how much air you can breathe in and out. It also shows how fast you can breathe in and out. Lung volumes can provide further information about how your lungs are functioning. Transpulmonary pressure can provide information about the pressures occurring in the lungs. The results of the pressure volume study can help your doctor find the best treatment plan for you.


Preparing for the Test

Please follow these directions when getting ready for this test. These medicines will affect the results of some of these tests and need to be stopped before the testing is done. If the medicine is not stopped before the test we will not be able to complete the test.

Do not eat or drink 1 hour before the test is scheduled.

Stop these inhaled medicines for 24 hours before your appointment:

  • Advair® (fluticasone and salmeterol)
  • Symbicort® (budesonide and formaterol)
  • Dulera® (mometasone and formoterol)
  • Breo® (fluticasone and vilanterol)
  • Arcapta (indacerterol)
  • Serevent® (salmeterol)
  • Foradil® (formoterol)
  • Serevent® (salmeterol)
  • Tudorza® (aclidinium)
  • Brovana® (arformoterol)
  • Perforomist™ (formoterol)
  • Spiriva® (tiotropium)
  • Striverdi® (olodatarol)
  • Anora® (umeclidinium and vianterol)

Stop these inhaled medicines for 6 hours before your appointment:

  • Atrovent® (ipatroprium)
  • Combivent® (albuterol and ipatropium)
  • DuoNeb® (albuterol and iatropium)

Stop these inhaled medicines for 4-6 hours before your appointment:

  • Proventil HFA®
  • Ventolin HFA®
  • ProAir® (albuterol)
  • Xopenex® (levalbuterol)
Continue to take all your other medicine as you usually do.


During the Test

You will do a number of breathing tests. The technician will explain what you need to do during each test. A good effort during the testing is important to get good results. The technician will coach you during each test to help you give a good effort. If you have questions during the tests, please ask the technician.

After some initial breathing tests an esophageal catheter will be inserted into your esophagus (tube food follows to the stomach). You will be asked to swallow water while a small tube is placed in your nose. The tube is passed through your nose into your esophagus. Some people notice minor throat irritation during the test. The tube is in your esophagus for about 30 minutes.

You may be asked to sit in a Plexiglas booth for some of the testing. This booth is called a body box or plethysmograph. You will do different breathing techniques, blowing into a tube, while in the booth. Each breathing technique is often repeated to make sure the test is reliable.

You may also inhale a quick-relief medicine. If you inhale the medicine the breathing tests will be repeated after the medicine. Your doctor can see what breathing changes you have after you inhale the medicine.

Learn more about how the test is performed.

Length of Test

The pressure volume study often takes 2 hours to complete.


Day of the Test

On the day of your scheduled test, report to room A310a in the Pulmonary Physiology Unit, (PPU), located on the 3rd floor of the May building. If you have questions please call the Pulmonary Physiology Unit at 303.398.1530.

Get directions and view a map of the National Jewish Health campus.


This information has been approved by Amy Olson, MD, MSPH and Becky Kolenbrander, RRT, AE-C (November 2014).

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