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Respiratory testing

Easy Read Information

Respiratory is about your breathing.

This department is called the Spirometry department. It helps people with problems with their breathing.

This page has information about the tests we do on people with problems with their breathing.

Who are we?

The Spirometry department is the part of the department which performs any tests which involve your breathing. We perform a wide variety of tests to assess your lung health and other aspects which can affect how well you can breathe.

What we do

Spirometry testing - A common breathing test used to assess a patient's basic lung function. In this test, a patient is required to take a full breath in and to forcefully blow until their lungs are empty. The test is repeated a number of times to ensure the results are accurate and reliable.

Reversibility - A doctor may also ask for Spirometry to be performed with Reversibility. This involves performing the Spirometry test, after which a dose of Salbutamol (also known as Ventolin) is administered. The patient is then asked to repeat the test after 20 minutes to assess the lungs' response to the medicine.

Full Pulmonary Function Testing (Full PFT) - This test uses specialist equipment and techniques to assess a number of aspects of lung function including the total lung capacity, spirometry measurements and transfer factor (how efficient the lungs are at oxygen transfer).

Cardio-Pulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) - This test involves a patient wearing a 12-lead ECG to monitor and specialised mask in order to record their heart and lungs' response to exercise. The patient is then asked to cycle on an exercise bike for around 8-12 minutes. As the test continues, the test gets progressively harder and both the heart and lungs are monitored throughout.

End Tidal CO2 Monitoring - A simple test in which the air you breathe is monitored through a nasal cannula (a tube which sits just inside the nostrils) for a couple of minutes.

Six-Minute Walk Test - this test involves a patient to perform End Tidal CO2 Monitoring and Spirometry followed by a six-minute walking period at the patient's own pace. During the walk period, the patient has their oxygen levels monitored and a second End Tidal CO2 Monitoring test and Spirometry will be repeated immediately after the six minute walk.

Bronchial Challenge Test - This is a specialised test to assess how responsive a patient's airways are to a known stimulant and can be used in the diagnosis of Asthma. The patient breathes in a nebulised stimulant used to provoke a response in the patient airways. The response is measured through repeated spirometry tests.

Allergen (Skin Prick) Testing - Usually performed for patients with Asthma-type symptoms and involves exposing a small part of a patient's skin to a number of irritants (such as grass, pollen etc.) and then making a small prick with a lancet. Once exposed, the skin is assessed and the response is recorded.

Oxygen Saturation (Sp02)- A simple test which uses a small probe that is attached to the finger or ear that can monitor the percentage of oxygen present in the bloodstream.

Lying and Seated Spirometry - A simple test which involves performing a standard spirometry test in a prone (lying) position and then seated.

Respiratory Muscle Strength Testing - This test assesses a patient's respiratory muscle strength through a number of breathing maneouvres. Before this test is performed, Arterial Blood Gas analysis (ABGs) may be required. This involves taking blood samples from a patient's wrist.

A full and detailed description of every test is available for download from our website.