Lung Function Laboratory - Information for Referrers

Comprehensive lung function laboratories are at Monash Medical Centre Clayton, Dandenong Hospital and Berwick Healthcare.

A variety of clinical services are offered including pulmonary function testing and asthma education. We can also assist with training of general practice staff who perform basic lung function testing.

To print our referral form please see the pdf file at the bottom of this page.

Commonly performed tests

Spirometry

  • measurement of forced expiration to assess the volume of air in the lungs (forced vital capacity) and the speed it can be expired (forced expired volume in 1 second)
  • one of the primary measures of lung function used to identify lung pathology, usually performed before and after administration of inhaled bronchodilator
  • often performed in association with Diffusing Capacity.

Diffusing Capacity

  • test used to assess the ability of the lungs to diffuse oxygen into the blood stream
  • most common test performed after spirometry
  • involves inhalation of a test gas held in the lungs for 10 seconds
  • change in concentration of gas reflects function of lung tissue
  • diffusing capacity recommended when testing for disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis.

Lung volumes (body plethysmography)

  • measures amount of gas trapped in the lungs after patient has fully expired
  • useful when assessing patients with lung disease such as pulmonary fibrosis and COPD.

Arterial blood gases

  • simple blood test that measures the pH and the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood
  • usually performed during assessment for oxygen therapy
  • small blood sample is taken from the radial artery at the wrist and analysed.

Skin prick allergy testing

  • tests for the presence of allergies
  • simple procedure performed on both children and adults
  • drop of the test allergen placed onto skin
  • allergen introduced to the body via small scratch on skin surface
  • small red lump or wheal will develop should positive response occur
  • skin prick testing most commonly used to assess allergy in asthma and hayfever sufferers, small number of food allergens available for assessment.

Bronchial provocation

  • performed when baseline lung function tests normal
  • presence of underlying asthma or hyperreactivity can be assessed using one of available challenges
  • mannitol, methacholine, saline and exercise challenges are all available.

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET)

  • most complex test offered by laboratory
  • typically used to assess patients where all other tests normal
  • involves riding an ergometer to maximal exercise capacity
  • ventilation, oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production measured every 30 seconds
  • 12 lead ECG monitored during exercise to check for cardiac changes
  • also used to assess fitness levels in individuals.

Oxygen assessments

  • used to determine domiciliary oxygen requirements
  • arterial blood gas sample taken and pulse oximetry monitored during a six minute walk test
  • further information available on domiciliary oxygen home page (link).

Less commonly performed tests

Altitude simulation

  • patients with severe lung disease assessed for safety during air travel
  • patient seated in large box where oxygen concentration reduced to levels seen on commercial aircraft
  • oximetry used to monitor the oxygen saturation
  • if this falls to below 88%, supplemental oxygen can be added to correct hypoxia.

Shunt study

  • test employed when patient suspected of having shunt (addition of non-oxygenated blood to arterial blood supply)
  • patient breathes 100% oxygen for approximately 10 – 15 minutes
  • arterial blood gas performed and oxygen content measured
  • elevated shunt fractions usually seen in patients with arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

Other services

Smoking cessation clinics

  • lung function laboratory has fully trained smoking cessation coordinator who is also trained respiratory scientist
  • smoking cessation sessions available to any patients who believe they need support when quitting
  • nicotine replacement therapy also arranged
  • sessions conducted on one to one basis or as part of group.

Asthma education

  • asthma coordinator available for consultation with clients referred to laboratory.

Contact

  • P: (03) 9594 2278 for lung function or asthma education booking
  • P: (03) 9594 2811 or email for test information

Cost

  • all tests and services are bulk billed.

Document downloads

Date
Title
Type
Size

Head Scientist
Paul Finlay

Respiratory Scientists
Theresa Yong
Laurie Ruane
Jason Barker
Corinne Herbu
Nadine Guiney
Ine Andersen
Lauren Greaves
Amanda Cestnik

Reception Staff
Silvia Hari
Sara Ng
Sandra Bate
Thu Pham