top of page

Pulmonary Function Tests

About Our Laboratory

The Lung Centre has been accredited by the Diagnositic Accreditation Program and offers pulmonary function testing for patients coming to see the Respirologists and through our spirometry laboratory service.  All patients need a requisition from a physician before tests can be performed.  Some tests can only be requested by a Lung Centre Respirologist.  Please note that we do not offer laboratory services for patients 16 years or younger - these patients should be referred to the pulmonary function laboratory at the Women's and Children's Hospital.


15-30 minutes

This is a short, simple breathing test requiring you to take a deep breath and blow out hard into a mouthpiece. The spirometer records how much air you can blow out and how fast you can blow it out. You will have to do this at least three times and your best effort will be reported.  This takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.


If your doctor wants you to do the test before and after Ventolin  (Salbutamol), an inhaled medication that relaxes the muscles around your breathing tubes in your lungs, the test will take a total of about 30 minutes. 

To find out how to prepare for this test click here.

To find out the contraindications for spirometry click here.

Allergy Skin Testing

30 minutes

On the inside surface or your arm (with palm up), small drops of liquid containing potential allergens are placed. The surface of the skin is then scratched with a small needle (through the drop of liquid) and the reaction is measured ten minutes later. If you do react to the allergen, a small red bump will form where the skin was scratched, something like a mosquito bite and it may be itchy.


The size of the bump is measured and recorded and in this way, along with your health history, it can be determined if you have an allergy or not.  About 70% of people who have asthma have allergies as well so this is a very common test. 


There are certain medications you should abstain from before taking the test or they may make the test invalid. Please click here to see a list. The video to the left will give you an indication of how the test will be performed.


5-15 minutes

The test is painless, fast and easy. A small plastic probe is clipped onto your index finger, an infra-red light shines through your finger and a reading of the oxygen level in your blood and your heart rate is immediately produced. The doctor may ask you to do this 'at rest' (while sitting) or while walking.  For an indication of what's involved for this test - please watch the video to the left.

A walking oximetry test involves you walking at your own pace for a maximum of three minutes while the oximeter probe is attached to your finger.  The technician will be monitoring your oxygen levels while you walk and taking measurements. If your oxygen level drops to a certain level the technician will stop the test and take some additional resting measurements. This test is done by trained personell in a safe environment. The doctor needs the results from this test in order to determine if you need to use extra oxygen when you are walking or exercising. The results are immediately available for the Respirologist.

Six Minute Walk Test

20-30 minutes

The purpose of this test is to see how far you can walk in six minutes and is used by your doctor to assess your functional exercise capacity. Sometimes the doctor will have you repeat this test on subsequent visits to see if there is any change in your exercise capacity over time (or after treatment). For an indication of what to expect when you come for this test - please watch the video to the left.

Arterial Blood Gas

15 minutes

A sample of blood is taken from an artery in your wrist to determine the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. This sample is needed in order for the doctor to be able to order home oxygen therapy for you.

Sputum Induction

1 hour and 15 minutes

The aim of the sputum induction test is for you to be able to cough up a sample of sputum from your lungs. The sample is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results give your doctor more information about what sort of cells are in your lungs and, therefore, helps guide your treatment.


During the test you will be asked to inhale different concentrations of a salt water mist. This mist makes it easier for you to produce the sputum sample from your lungs. Before the sputum induction test and after each inhalation you will be asked to perform a breathing test (see information on Spirometry). This is so the technologist can monitor any changes in your breathing.  It is advisable not to eat anything for about 1 hour before the test. For a further indication of what to expect, please watch the video to the left.

Please reload

bottom of page