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Spirometry

Spirometry is a test that can help diagnose various lung conditions, most commonly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Spirometry is also used to monitor the severity of some other lung conditions, and their response to treatment. At Riccarton Clinic we conduct spirometry for our own patients and others that are referred to us by other practices or by employers.

Spirometry is the most common of the lung function tests. These tests look at how well your lungs work. Spirometry shows how well you breathe in and out. Breathing in and out can be affected by lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis.

Having a spirometry test is straightforward. It may occasionally be tiring and make you feel a bit puffed, but usually is not uncomfortable.

The test involves taking a full breath in and blowing out with your best effort into a tube attached to the spirometer machine. Various measurements are made which indicate how your lungs are working. The test is performed whilst seated, and usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. It is sometimes carried out before and after inhaling a reliever drug such as Ventolin or Bricanyl to measure the effect of these drugs. In this case, your doctor may ask you not to take your usual reliever medication for a few hours prior to the test.

 You will be asked to do the following to try to ensure the test is done accurately:

  • Breathe in as deeply as you can

  • Seal your lips around the mouthpiece

  • Blow out as hard and fast as you can, for as long as you can, and keep going as long as possible

  • Let the Technician know if you feel any distress during the procedure.

Your test results will be reported on by a specially trained doctor and your regular doctor will receive the report and take any action necessary.