Atlantic Endocrinology New York City

SPIROMETRY

Spirometry is the most common type of pulmonary function or breathing test. This test measures how much air you can breathe in and out of your lungs, as well as how easily and fast you can blow the air out of your lungs. Your doctor at Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center may order spirometry if you have wheezing, shortness of breath, or a cough.

It’s carried out using a device called a spirometer, which is a small machine attached by a cable to a mouthpiece.

Spirometry may be performed by a nurse or doctor, or it may be carried out during a short visit to a hospital or clinic.

Spirometry can be used to help diagnose a lung condition if you have symptoms of a problem, or your doctor feels you’re at an increased risk of developing a particular lung condition.

For example, it may be recommended if you have a persistent cough or breathlessness, or if you’re over 35 and smoke.

Conditions that can be picked up and monitored using spirometry include:

• Asthma.
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
• Cystic fibrosis.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a chronic lung disorder, spirometry may be used periodically to check how well your medications are working and whether your breathing problems are under control. Spirometry may be ordered before a planned surgery to check if your lung function is adequate for the rigors of an operation. Additionally, spirometry may be used to screen for occupational-related lung disorders.

WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR A SPIROMETRY TEST?

A Spirometry test is commonly used for patients with:

• Asthma.
• Shortness of breath.
• Emphysema.
• Chronic cough.
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
• Bronchitis.
• Smoking, or exposure to secondhand smoke.

Since the measurement process only takes a few minutes, this allows the patient to discuss the results immediately with their physician. Additional testing may be necessary in order to better diagnose chronic lung conditions such as asthma.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF SPIROMETRY?

Generally speaking, a Spirometry is a safe and fairly simple test. Due to the exertion involved, a patient may temporarily feel out of breath or dizzy. For those who have certain heart conditions or may have suffered a recent heart attack, a spirometry may not be performed.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

A Spirometry test requires you to breathe into a tube attached to a machine called a spirometer. Before you do the test, a nurse, a technician or your doctor will give you specific instructions. Listen carefully and ask questions if something is not clear. Doing the test correctly is necessary for accurate and meaningful results.

In general, you can expect the following during a spirometry test:

• You’ll likely be seated during the test.
• A clip will be placed on your nose to keep your nostrils closed.
• You will take a deep breath and breathe out as hard as you can for several seconds into the tube. It’s important that your lips create a seal around the tube, so that no air leaks out.
• You’ll need to do the test at least three times to make sure your results are relatively consistent. If there is too much variation among the three outcomes, you may need to repeat the test again. The highest value among three close test results is used as the final result.

Your doctor may give you an inhaled medication to open your lungs (bronchodilator) after the initial round of tests. You’ll need to wait 15 minutes and then do another set of measurements. Your doctor then can compare the results of the two measurements to see whether the bronchodilator improved your airflow.

BENEFITS TO A SPIROMETRY

Key spirometry measurements will be taken and those include the following:

• Forced vital capacity (FVC): This is the largest amount of air that you can forcefully exhale after breathing in as deeply as you can. A lower-than-normal FVC reading indicates restricted breathing.

• Forced expiratory volume (FEV): This is how much air you can force from your lungs in one second. This reading helps your doctor assess the severity of your breathing problems. Lower FEV-1 readings indicate more significant obstruction.
These readings will help your doctor at Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center determine a course of action to be taken.