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What do LFTs involve?

Lung Function Tests usually involve you breathing in and out of, or blowing into specialist equipment designed to accurately measure:

  • The volume of air that you breathe in and out during normal breathing, and during forced manoeuvres
  • The flow characteristics of the air as it moves in and out of you lungs
  • The concentrations of the gases that you are breathing in and out

Some of these manaoeuvres involve very short bursts of effort from you (such as Spirometry), some require you to hold your breath (such as measuring your Gas Transfer) and some may require you to breath normally for 2-10 minutes, or whilst seated inside a special box, called a Whole Body Plethysmograph, to measure your Lung Volumes.

By analysing this data, we can observe the presece of lung disease, how it is affecting your breathing, and specifically where the damage is located (i.e is there damage to your airways, to your lung tissue, your chest wall, etc).

Some of these tests need to be repeated several times in order to ensure that the measurements are accurate and reproducible. The person conducting your test should give you adequate time to rest between each manoeuvre to allow you to recover from performing the previous effort.

Vitalograph Spirometer

Above is a picture of a hand-held spirometer, which measures lung capacity and airflow, and a graph of the data it collects.

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