Spirometry is a breathing test that measures the volume of air that can be breathed in and out. The primary signal measured is volume or flow which is depicted on a graph. The graph and figures provide information on how well the lungs work. The measurements from spirometry are valuable as a screening tool for respiratory health however spirometry alone cannot lead to a diagnosis.
The test involves having a nose peg on to block air flow from the nose while breathing through the mouth on a mouthpiece. You will be instructed to breathe normally through the mouthpiece, then to take a big breath in to fill your lungs, then blast it out hard and fast to empty. A maximum of eight blows can be performed to get three acceptable results. You may also be given a bronchodilator such as Ventolin to measure the effects on your lungs and help determine any limitation to air flow in your airways.
What are the risks?
Spirometry is generally a safe and non-invasive procedure. However it does require maximal effort, co-operation and some co-ordination. It is not unusual for spirometry to result in:
- transient breathlessness
- oxygen desaturation
- sensation of fainting
- chest pain
- induced bronchospasm in patients with poorly controlled asthma
The minimum patient age for this test is 12 years. There are some other contraindications associated with a Spirometry test which the CRS team will discuss with you before your test.
What happens next?
Upon completion of the procedure, the spirometry results will be formulated and sent to your referring doctor and any additional doctor specified by you.