Diagnostic Tests

Pulmonary Function Test


Pulmonary Function Test

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What is this test?

Pulmonary function test (PFT) is used to assess the functioning of your lungs. This test helps in measuring the lung capacity, lung volume, gas exchange, rate of flow, etc. This information is useful in detecting any lung-related problems or in diagnosing lung diseases.

Pulmonary function test includes:

  • Spirometry: Spirometry is a measure of the amount of air you breathe in and breathe out.
  • Plethysmography: Plethysmography measures the volume of gas in your lungs.
  • Diffusion capacity: This test helps in assessing the functioning of the air sacs in the lungs which are called alveoli.

Why this test is performed?

This test may be recommended to you for many reasons. Sometimes this test is performed as a part of your routine health checkup. This test helps in diagnosing lung-related problems or lung disorders like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, allergies, respiratory infections, lung fibrosis, inflammation of lungs, tumors, etc. This test is also recommended to you if you experience certain symptoms like shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, weakness, etc. This test is also recommended to check the effectiveness of the treatment given to particular disease or to measure the response to treatment in cardiopulmonary vascular disease. This test is also preferred for the individuals that are exposed to chemicals at work and to check the lung function.


Before undergoing this test avoid smoking for a few hours. Pulmonary function test may cause problems if you recently had a heart attack or heart disease, eye surgery, abdominal surgery, chest surgery, respiratory infection, etc. Certain medicines may interfere with your test hence stop taking any medicines prior to the test and inform your doctor or technician about all your current medications and medical conditions. Avoid taking food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, chocolates, tea before your test. Caffeine may cause the airways to open up more which may affect the test results. Avoid strenuous exercise prior to the test. Make sure to wear loose and comfortable clothes that make you breathe easily.

Also known as PFT.

Test Preparation

Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your Pulmonary Function Test. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for Pulmonary Function Test.

Do not have large meals prior to the test because a full stomach may prevent your lungs from taking air fully.

Understanding your test results

The normal test results may vary depending on gender, age, height, health history, etc.

Different measurements may be found in this test results, which your doctor may be able to explain. If you get any abnormal test results, consult your doctor immediately.

Abnormal test results may indicate some lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, respiratory infections, bronchitis, etc. These lung diseases are called obstructive lung disorders. They make the lungs to retain too much air and take a longer time to empty. The other lung diseases which make the lungs scarred and smaller are sarcoidosis (lumps of inflammatory cells around the lungs), scleroderma (thickening and hardening of connective tissue) and pulmonary fibrosis. These conditions make lungs to retain a small amount of air and poorly transfer oxygen into the blood.

GenderAge groupsValue
UNISEXAll age groupsThe results depend on the type of lung pathology. Restrictive or obstructive lung diseases are identified
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