med 610 clinical respiratory diseases & critcare med

Pulmonary Function Testing

Pulmonary function tests are one of the main diagnostic tools employed by pulmonary physicians. They can be used for a variety of purposes including to help identify the etiology of dyspnea, to follow progression of pulmonary diseases and response to treatment and to evaluate fitness to undergo other procedures or treatments such as thoracic surgery or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. Given this wide range of uses, it is critical that a pulmonary physician be able to read and interpret these tests. This page contains a variety of materials designed to help you improve your skills in this regard, including:

  • A primer of pulmonary function testing
  • Clinical cases of patients with pulmonary function test results that require your interpretation.
  • Links to other educations materials on the topic

Primer on Pulmonary Function Testing

A Primer on Reading Pulmonary Function Tests is a tutorial written by Dr. Joshua Benditt on various aspects of pulmonary function testing including

  • indications for order the tests
  • how they are performed and,
  • most importantly, strategies for interpreting test results.

Print primer [220k PDF*]

Interactive Case-Based Tutorial in Pulmonary Function Testing

You can access a web-based, interactive tutorial on pulmonary function testing by clicking here.

Hands-on Training in Pulmonary Function Testing

During the course of their rotation, students at each of the three clinical sites will have the opportunity to obtain hands-on training in pulmonary function testing. Students will learn about the various testing protocols and will undergo a complete set of testing as wellI. In certain cases, it may also be possible for students to undergo a cardiopulmonary exercise test.

Because of unanticipated variability in the workload in the pulmonary diagnostic laboratories at each institution, these sessions cannot be scheduled in advance. Instead, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the lead pulmonary function technician at their clinical site to arrange a time for this session. The contact information for each site is as follows:

  • UWMC: Pat Clark.  Phone: 206-598-4265.
    Because the team room is located in the Pulmonary Diagnostics Laboratory, you can also easily arrange these sessions by talking to Lori at the front desk or the other technicians in the lab.
  • HMC: Linda Wilson.   Phone: 206-744-3507 
  • VAMC: Barbara Maichel.  Phone: 206-764-2484 

Additional Reading Materials


The E-reserves page that has been established for this course contains a folder of articles dedicated to the topic of pulmonary function testing and contains and contains the ATS/ERS statement on pulmonary function testing: (UWNet ID required)

Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine 4th Ed

This book contains a section on pulmonary function testing. It can be accessed through Clinical Key (UWNet ID required).

HuBio 541 Syllabus

The syllabus for HuBio 541 The Respiratory System contains a chapter on pulmonary function testing: (UWNet ID required)

  • Scroll down and select Chapter 23 Pulmonary Function Testing.

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