Pulmonary Function Testing

What are Pulmonary Function Tests?

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are a noninvasive way to determine how well your lungs work in many different capacities. They give your provider important information that will help shape your plan of care. These tests can help your provider determine if you have pulmonary diseases such as Asthma or COPD. Our Respiratory Therapists will guide you through every step of your testing.

What kinds of tests do we do?

Pulmonary Function Testing device 
  • Spirometry – a measure of much air you can take into and push out of your lungs. This can involve a forceful exhalation until you have blown all the air out of your lungs. This test requires your best effort to ensure your provider has accurate data to work with.
  • Diffusion Capacity – This test indirectly measures how well you can move oxygen and carbon dioxide across the membranes in your lungs.
  • Lung Volumes – Officially known as Plethysmography, this test determines the total amount of air in your lungs beyond what you are able to take in or blow out.
  • Six minute walk test – This test will show how well your heart and lungs work with the rest of your body.
  • There are many other specialty tests your provider can order if they feel they are necessary such as Cardiopulmonary exercise tests and Methacholine Challenges. These tests are a little more involved and you will be provided with additional instructions prior to your appointment with us.

Why do I need these tests?

  • These tests can tell your provider how well your lungs are working. This can help to track disease progression such as in Asthma, IPF, or COPD, among many others.
  • Pre-operative clearance. Surgeons and Anesthesiologists will have a better understanding of how well you might tolerate the anesthetic during your procedure and will let them know about any potential complications that may arise.
  • To assess lung function after either workplace or environmental exposure to allergens or other potentially harmful substances.

Are there risks associated with these tests?

  • As with most things in life, there are some risks associated with these tests. During testing you may experience dizziness/lightheadedness, coughing, or feeling short of breath.

What to expect on your appointment day

  • Take your controller medications, if prescribed, unless otherwise instructed.
  • The Respiratory Therapist will walk you through with instruction and guidance to ensure optimal results.
  • The filter and mouthpiece will be used only for you and disposed of after your testing.
  • These tests are greatly effort-dependent. Maximal effort is necessary to make sure we are getting the best results. Each of the tests will require multiple attempts to make sure the results are reliable.
  • After your testing, your provider will go over the results with you and detail any changes that may need to be made.

Where can you find us?

  • We have locations in Downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, and West Ashley!