Pulmonary function testing measures how well you are breathing. Spirometry is one type of pulmonary function testing which can be performed in our clinic. There are other types of pulmonary function tests that can be ordered if needed. Spirometry is a simple test to measure how much (volume) and how fast (flow) you can move air into and out of your lungs.
Through routine spirometry, lung diseases can often be diagnosed in the early stages when treatment is most effective. Once a lung disease is diagnosed and treated, routine spirometry tests can monitor changes in lung functions, with specific treatment and over time. This will help your doctor find the best treatment plan for you.
You will be instructed in clinic how to perform spirometry. Basically, you will take in a deep breath and blow into a mouthpiece attached to the spirometer and computer. You will blow out as hard and as fast as you can until your lungs feel absolutely empty. You will be asked to repeat the test several more times until there are two to three good efforts recorded. You will be coached and encouraged to do your best during the test. A good effort during the test is important to get accurate results.
The spirometry program on the computer calculates and graphs the results. The results demonstrate a person’s air flow rates or the volume forced out within the first second. This is the Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second (FEV1). This indicates whether or not there is airway obstruction. Spirometry also records the total volume of air forced out of the lungs. This is the Forced Vital Capacity (FVC). The percentage of the FVC exhaled in the first second (FEV1) is also calculated with spirometry. This is the FEV1/FVC. While these are the main results we look at, there is other information to be gained through spirometry. Your physicians will review the spirometry results, discuss these in clinic with you and determine the best treatment for you.