Lung Function Laboratory - Information for Patients

As part of the management of your lung condition, your doctor or specialist may want to assess how well your lungs are working. These tests can be performed on the same day as your specialist appointment.

The test typically involves breathing into a machine called a spirometer. The tests are easy to do, are painless and generally take about 30 – 40 minutes to complete and can be performed at  Monash Medical Centre or Dandenong Hospital.

Eligibility

Assessment is undertaken individually during clinical consultation

Waiting times

Usually able to see patients in the same week.

Referral

Essential to be provided by your general practioner or consultant physician.

Cost

All services are at no cost to the patient.

Commonly performed tests

Spirometry

  • measures amount of air in lungs and how quickly you can expire.
  • a useful measurement for doctor to assess type of problem you might have and  effect of treatments you have been using.
  • often performed in association with diffusing capacity.

Diffusing capacity

  • test used to assess ability of lungs to absorb oxygen from breathing
  • test involves inhalation of test gas held in lungs for 10 seconds
  • change in concentration of gas reflects function of lung tissue.

Lung volumes (body plethysmography)

  • measures total amount of air in lungs
  • often performed to confirm the initial findings of spirometry.

Arterial blood gases

  • determines exact amount of oxygen your body
  • small sample of blood taken from your wrist, often performed in association with six minute walk test .

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.

Challenge testing

  • performed when baseline lung function tests normal
  • there are a variety of different challenge tests available which your doctor will select are most suitable.

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

  • if all other tests normal and you are still short of breath, your doctor might ask you to perform exercise test
  • involves riding stationary bicycle for about 10 minutes
  • during the exercise, your heart and breathing monitored
  • test can also assess effects of prescribed fitness or rehabilitation programs

Oxygen assessments

  • if you have severe lung condition your doctor might prescribe oxygen therapy for home use
  • to check for appropriateness of oxygen, small blood sample (arterial blood gas) taken followed by a short walk
  • if you qualify for home oxygen, oxygen therapist will ask you to complete some paperwork, and will try answer questions about using oxygen.

Altitude simulation

  • if planning air travel, your doctor may check your safety for this
  • you will be seated in large box where oxygen concentration reduced to levels seen on commercial aircraft
  • if your oxygen levels drop too low, you will be given some oxygen
  • your doctor will then arrange for oxygen to be available during air travel

Other services

Asthma education

  • asthma coordinator available for consultation with clients referred to laboratory
  • doctor may refer you to our asthma educator to ensure you are using your medication and devices correctly

Contact

  • 9594 2278 to make a lung function or asthma education booking
  • 9594 2811 or email for test information