EYE ON DIAGNOSTICS: The ins and outs of pulmonary function testing

December 2005 
Volume 35  Number 12
Pages 70 - 71
  PDF Version Available!



STEVE THOMPSON, 58, reports increased shortness of breath with activity and a chronic, nonproductive cough. For the past 32 years, he's smoked an average of one pack of cigarettes each day. On physical examination, the nurse hears decreased breath sounds bilaterally with a prolonged expiratory phase. Pulmonary function testing (PFT) is performed to get a better look at Mr. Thompson's condition.

What is PFT?

Pulmonary disease can be categorized as obstructive (as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] or asthma) or restrictive, such as sarcoidosis or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary function testing helps diagnose the disease, assess its severity, and determine the patient's prognosis. Common components of PFT are spirometry, whole body plethysmography, and diffusion capacity. For accurate, reproducible results, a technologist must give the patient clear instructions, and the patient must be willing and able ...

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