Pulmonary Function Tests or PFTs are a set of tests that are used to determine, measure or observe the functioning of the lungs. The most common pulmonary function tests used are spirometry, gas diffusion, and lung plethysmography.
Highlights of pulmonary function tests
What does a Pulmonary Function Test measure?
Pulmonary function tests would not only check how well the person is breathing but also how effectively the lungs are able to conduct oxygen to the rest of the body. In addition to airflow, these tests would measure the size and volume of the lung and lung diffusion.
These tests can also be used to measure
When are Pulmonary Function Tests recommended?
A physician might recommend a patient undergo a PFT as part of a routine physical check-up. This test would be advised if the patient is experiencing any symptoms associated with lung problems or disorders such as asthma, respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD. A doctor would also use these tests to monitor and check whether a certain treatment prescribed for lung disease or condition is working effectively.
Pulmonary function tests are safe as they are non-invasive but it is important to follow the instructions of the doctor or technician before, after and during the test. It is important to make your doctor aware of any surgeries, respiratory infections, chest pains or heart attacks that you might have experienced before the test. If you are taking any medications you might need to follow the advice of the doctor as to whether you can take them before the test.
Your doctor would also advise you on how to prepare for the test such as not eating a large meal, avoiding caffeine and wearing loose-fitting clothes. If you have any doubts, concerns or queries discuss them with your doctor.
Lung function is a major indicator of health since it determines the amount of Oxygen that a body gets. Doctors resort to Pulmonary Function Tests if there is a problem with breathing or the lungs. Pulmonary tests give insight into how the lungs are functioning.
These tests measure parameters like lung capacity, lung volumes, gas exchange, rate of flow, etc.
Armed with information from these tests, the doctor can decide whether a person has some issues with the lungs or not, and accordingly diagnose and decide the line of treatment for accelerated recovery.
Type Of Pulmonary Function Tests
Basic PFT: Spirometry-
Advanced Pulmonary Function Testing includes different tests like:
Why Undergo Pulmonary Function Tests?
Doctors may conduct Pulmonary Function Tests even on healthy people. It is a mandatory part of pre-employment and peri-employment workups in most industrial and corporate health checkup programs. If a person works in certain hazardous environments like graphite factory, coal mine, chemical factory, etc., the employer may order such tests on a regular basis. People working in such places are at increased risk of developing respiratory problems which could be detected on PFT at an early stage.
PFT is an important investigation for evaluating common respiratory symptoms like:
It is a very crucial diagnostic tool for diagnosing chest diseases like:
In a Nutshell-