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Routine Pulmonary Function Test

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This information was reviewed and approved by Becky Kolenbrander, RRT, AE-C (3/1/2018).

What is a pulmonary function test?

Pulmonary function testing measures how well you are breathing. There are different types of breathing tests that can be done during pulmonary function testing. They include spirometry, lung volumes and diffusing capacity. 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. Diffusing capacity can show how well your lungs move oxygen from the lungs to the blood. The results of pulmonary function testing can help your doctor find the best treatment plan for you.


How do you get ready for the test?

There are no medication holds for the following pulmonary function tests:

  1. Baseline only

  2. Spirometry and DLCO

  3. Post Rx only


For pre and post pulmonary function testing

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.

  • Stop these inhaled medicines for 48 hours before your appointment:
    • Anora® (umeclidinium and vilanterol)

    • Bevespi® (glycopyrrolate and formoterol)

    • Stiolto® (olodaterol and tiotropium)

    • Utibron® (indacaterol and glycopyrrolate)

    • Trelegy® (fluticasone, umeclidinium and vilanterol)


  • Stop these inhaled medicines for 24 hours before your appointment:
    • Incruse® (umeclidinium)

    • Seebri® (glycopyrrolate)

    • Spiriva® (tiotropium)

    • Tudorza® (aclidinium)


  • Stop these inhaled medicines for 12 hours before your appointment:
    • Arcapta® (indacerterol)

    • Brovana® (arformoterol)

    • Perforomistä® (formoterol)

    • Serevent® (salmeterol)

    • Striverdi® (olodaterol)

    • Advair® (fluticasone and salmeterol)

    • Breo® ((fluticasone and vilanterol)

    • Dulera® (mometasone and formoterol)

    • Symbicort® (budesonide and formaterol)


  • Stop these inhaled medicines for 6 hoursbefore your appointment:
    • Atrovent® (ipratropium)

    • Combivent® (albuterol and ipatropium)

    • DuoNeb® (albuterol and ipatropium)


  • Stop these inhaled medicines for 4-6 hoursbefore your appointment:
    • ProAir HFA®

    • Proventil HFA®

    • Ventolin HFA® (albuterol)

    • Xopenex® (levalbuterol)


  • Continue to take all your other medicine as you usually do.


What is done during the pulmonary function 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. If you have questions during the test, please ask the technician.

You may be asked to sit in a Plexiglass booth for some of the testing. This booth is called a body box or plethysmograph. You will do different breathing techniques , 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.

How long will the test take?

Pulmonary function testing often takes 1hour and 15 minutes to complete.


How do you get to your pulmonary function test?

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