Chapter 6. Pulmonary Function Testing

Darcy D Marciniuk, MD, FCCP
DOI: 10.1378/pulm.26.6
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  • Review the clinical indications, conduct, and interpretation of pulmonary function testing.

  • Outline limitation(s) of various testing methods and highlight the value of both laboratory and testing standardization and quality assurance.

  • Explore characteristic pulmonary function test results and diagnostic criteria associated with common respiratory clinical disorders.


Pulmonary function testing (PFT) is one of the most important and most frequently utilized investigations in our field. The conduct and interpretation of PFTs is a defining competency of our specialty, and the PFT laboratory is a fundamental and indispensable resource for the pulmonologist. A thorough understanding of the indications, conduct, interpretation, and limitations of testing is essential. In addition, as colleagues and our patients are dependent on and trust in results derived from laboratories we supervise, pulmonologists must also be expert in issues related to quality assurance, standardization, and testing procedures in the PFT laboratory. Although these roles are closely related, the independent importance of each competency must be emphasized. In this regard, increasing attention is being focused on mastery of the technical aspects of testing and the laboratory, and these will be reviewed below. A comprehensive review of this area is beyond the intent of this syllabus. Those wanting more complete information are directed to the referenced source materials at the end of this chapter.


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