A Pulmonary Function Test, also known as a PFT, is a noninvasive test that helps a doctor assess how your lungs are functioning. This type of test has evolved over the years in terms of what’s involved with performing the test and where it can be done. Traditionally, a lab environment was where PFTs were performed. Today, new technology allows patients to undergo pulmonary function testing right from the doctor’s office. It involves performing a series of breathing maneuvers, done by simply blowing into a handheld device that’s connected to a specialized machine. It is safe, quick, and easy to perform.
In this blog, experienced Manhattan lung specialist, Dr. Marc Bowen, will address the most commonly asked questions about pulmonary function testing.
Why would I need to undergo pulmonary function testing?
There are a number of reasons why a pulmonary function test might be recommended – ranging from an initial diagnostic evaluation, to following the progression of an existing lung disease, or to determine clinical response to treatment. In addition, pulmonary function testing is commonly required as part of a preoperative surgical evaluation. Prior to bariatric, thoracic, cardiac, vascular or major intra-abdominal surgery (among other types of surgery), a PFT is often needed to assess how well your lungs are functioning, to be able to identify and optimize any physiologic derangements, in order to reduce perioperative pulmonary risks.
Furthermore, there are a number of symptoms that might warrant pulmonary function testing as well. These include:
- Chronic cough
- Shortness of breath
- Problems with oxygenation
- Chest discomfort or pain
What does a pulmonary function test reveal?
Pulmonary function testing reveals multiple things, including:
- Lung volumes – how much air the lungs can hold at any given time throughout the respiratory cycle
- Lung capacity – how much air the lungs can exchange at the end of maximal inspiration (after inhaling as deeply as possible)
- Airflow rates – how quickly you can move air in and out of the lungs
- Gas exchange – how well your lungs are able to transport gas across lung tissue, into the circulatory system, and back out again
Based on the information gathered during a PFT, Dr. Bowen can diagnose new lung disorders or evaluate the progression of existing lung conditions, such as:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including chronic or asthmatic bronchitis and other smoking-related diseases
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Inflammatory lung diseases
- Pulmonary vascular disorders
- Neuromuscular disorders
What can I expect during pulmonary function testing in NYC?
During your pulmonary function testing at MXBowen, Physician P.C. in Manhattan, you’ll be asked to breathe into a handheld device that’s connected to a machine called a spirometer. A series of different tests will be performed to assess different measures of lung function. Since the test is performed from the comfort and convenience of our office, patients can feel at ease throughout the entire experience.
After the test is complete, Dr. Bowen will interpret the data, explain your results and, if necessary, determine what the next steps for testing or treatment should involve. The entire process can be completed in as little as a half hour.
Does a pulmonary function test hurt?
Pulmonary function testing is noninvasive and it does not involve any needles or painful aspects. However, certain parts of the test will require you to blow as hard as you can into the handheld device, which can cause you to cough, or even feel out of breath or light headed for a short period of time. This is not common and usually is not problematic.
How do I prepare for my PFT?
Dr. Bowen will provide specific instructions about how to prepare for the test. Some of the most common inquiries from patients include questions about eating and taking medications. You do not need to have an empty stomach to undergo pulmonary function testing, but you should not eat a heavy meal right before taking the test. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to not take your bronchodilator inhalers on the day of the test. Patients should wear loose-fitting clothing that does not restrict breathing.
Where can I find pulmonary function testing in NYC?
If you are looking for a convenient and seamless pulmonary function testing experience in NYC, MXBowen, Physician P.C. is here to assist. Our Midtown practice in Manhattan is equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art PFT equipment, in addition to a fully electronic patient registration system. Most insurances are accepted.
Whether you are looking for a doctor to perform pulmonary function testing in NYC or you have breathing symptoms that you think may require evaluation, Dr. Bowen can help. You can get started by making an appointment at MXBowen, Physician P.C., Health & Breathing Center through our Patient Portal (existing patients), or by contacting our office.