Weiss Memorial Hospital has earned the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval™

Pulmonary Function Lab

How does your breathing measure up? 

  • Do you have shortness of breath?
  • Can you walk up a flight of stairs or more than a block without feeling shortness of breath?
  • Have you been to the emergency room or hospitalized in the past year for this reason?
  • Have you ever smoked?
  • Do you have an embarrassing or persistent cough?

Every year, close to 344,000 Americans die of lung disease. It’s America's number three killer, responsible for one in seven deaths (ALA 2003).


Early detection and treatment of lung disease is your best defense against being a statistic. Public health officials are trying to encourage routine screening for lung disease. Routine pulmonary function tests are encouraged for those at risk.


Pulmonary function testing

Pulmonary function tests are a group of breathing exercises that measure the function of the lungs, revealing problems in the way a patient breathes. These tests can determine the cause of shortness of breath, and may help confirm lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema. The pulmonary function tests also are performed before any major lung surgery to correctly predict recovery time.


Pulmonary function tests can help a doctor diagnose a range of respiratory diseases, which might not otherwise be obvious to the doctor or the patient. The tests are important since many kinds of lung problems can be successfully treated if detected early.


The tests also are used to measure how a lung disease is progressing, and how serious the lung disease has become. Pulmonary function tests also can be used to assess how a patient is responding to different treatments.


Who performs the test?

Certified or registered respiratory therapists or pulmonary function technicians.


What is a pulmonary function test?

Pulmonary function testing involves a series of non-invasive diagnostic breathing tests that help the physician to diagnose the symptom of shortness of breath and the extent of the disease (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis), and to help determine if bronchodilator medication is effective. The study consists of several tests that measure airway resistance, airflow obstruction, lung volumes and gas exchanges (the body’s ability to get oxygen from the lungs). A respiratory medication using a nebulizer is usually given in conjunction with the study in order to determine if the patient would benefit from broncodilator therapy or to monitor the effectiveness of ongoing therapy.


When can testing be performed?

The Pulmonary Function Laboratory is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m. The last appointment is taken at 1. Evening and weekend hours may be available upon request.


How do I prepare for a pulmonary function test?

Click here to see our Pulmonary Instruction Sheet (PDF).


Early detection and treatment of lung disease can decrease the severity of disease progression. If you feel that you are a part of this high-risk group or are experiencing respiratory symptoms, contact your physician and see about having a pulmonary function test at Weiss Memorial Hospital. It could save your lungs.


For more information about pulmonary function testing, please call (773) 564-5640. To schedule a test, call (773) 564-7777.

Bookmark, Email, and Share