Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT)

New Service at GMHC!

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) show how well your lungs are working. These tests measure lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange. This information can help your provider identify and decide the treatment of certain lung disorders.

PFTs are used to identify treatment for asthma, emphysema, and other chronic lung problems. PFTs may also be used to check lung function before starting certain medications, surgery or other procedures in patients who have a history of lung or heart problems or a history of smoking. Your healthcare provider may also have other reasons to order PFTs.

There are two types of lung disease that may leave you short of breath. Obstructive lung disease prevents you from being able to get enough air out of the lungs and restrictive lung disease prevents you from being able to get enough air into the lungs.

Some common conditions may include:

• Allergies
• Respiratory infections
• Scarring or inflammation of the lungs due to exposures such as smoke or chemicals.
• Trouble breathing from injury to the chest or a recent surgery
• Chronic lung conditions, such as asthma, bronchiectasis, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis
• Restrictive airway problems from a condition that decreases your strength to pull in air or a condition that limits the amount of room in your chest to take air in such as scoliosis.

PFTs can be done with 2 methods. These 2 methods may be used separately or together and perform different tests to help identify your reason for shortness of breath.
• Spirometry: A spirometer is a device with a mouthpiece hooked up to a small electronic machine.
• Plethysmography: You sit or stand inside an air-tight box that looks like a short, square telephone booth to do the tests.
We can now do both at GMHC!

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