PFT - Pulmonary Function Test refers to one or different types of tests that are conducted on a patient to assess the condition of the lungs and their efficiency in transferring oxygen to the blood. PFT can help diagnosing the cause of 'shortness of breath' and confirm lung diseases like Emphysema, Bronchitis and Asthma. PFT aids in measuring occupational hazards of exposure to contaminants such as asbestos or radon. It helps monitoring of disease treatment. These tests are mandatory before any major lung surgery. However, PFT is not given to patients who had a recent heart attack or has a history of heart disease.
Spirometry is a vital PFT that measures how well the lungs exhale. This diagnostic test is prescribed for patients suffering from asthma or COPD. This tests involves breathing into a mouthpiece that is connected to a spirometer. The amount of air and rate of exhalation are measured over a specific time.
Peak Expiratory Flow Rate - PEFR meter is a handheld device that measures the rate of exhalation in a patient. This PEFR test results can vary depending upon a number of factors - age, height and sex. So peak flow meters are mostly useful for monitoring the medications of some Asthma patients.
Lung volume measurement test can aid detection of restrictive lung diseases. Such patients are often unable to inhale normal volumes of air due to inflammation or scarring of lung tissue. This PFT can be done as a body plethysmograph.
Gas diffusion test measures the amount of oxygen and other gases that are absorbed into your body from your lungs.
Inhalation challenge test aids in identifying possible allergens that can cause asthma or severe respiratory allergy. Other tests to measure lung function include residual volume, gas diffusion tests, body plethysmography, inhalation challenge tests, and exercise stress tests.
Patients scheduled for PFT must restrain from use of bronchodilators or inhaler medications for few hours prior to the test. Patients are advised not to eat a heavy meal or smoke for a few hours prior to the PFT. Typical normal values for pulmonary function tests are based on the age, height, ethnicity, and sex of the person being tested. Factors such history of smoking, wheezing and obesity can affect results of PFT. Pulmonary function tests are not advised for patients who have recently suffered heart attack.
Bronchoscopy is a diagnostic test that is used to view the airways, throat and larynx. This procedure can also facilitate removal of a growth or obstruction from the airway. Bronchoscopy is useful in diagnosing lung diseases and lung cancer. Any growth in the airways can be treated or removed. Other diagnostic tests such as CBC test, arterial blood gas test and PFT may be prescribed before embarking on bronchoscopy. The secretions in the mouth and airways are dried up with suitable medications. The vocal chords are also numbed. Fluroscope is also used to capture the images on a monitor. Avoid eating or drinking for a few hours prior to a bronchoscopy procedure. There might be blood in the sputum in case of biopsy.
Flexible bronchoscope allows a better view of the smaller airways and permits biopsy procedure too. This is called a transbronchial biopsy. Local anesthesia is often sprayed into the nose and mouth.
Rigid bronchoscope often necessitates the patient to be anesthesized and is resorted to when large samples need to be taken for biopsy and to remove pieces of food or dilating the airway. Use of laser is possible for removal for obstructions.
Abnormal results of bronchoscopy may be indicative of lung cancer, tumor, enlarged lymph nodes, ulceration or abnormality in the bronchial wall. Bronchoscopy is prescibed in cases where the patient coughs up blood or chest x-ray shows abnormal findings. If a person has inhaled a foreign body into the lung, bronchoscopy can help in removing it.