Lung Function Tests

For Patients and Visitors

What is the Service?

The Department of Respiratory Medicine offers a Lung function testing service. These tests are primarily performed to examine how well your lungs are working. These tests are bulk billed and can be performed on children through to adults. Lung function tests are used to help diagnose a range of lung conditions including (but not limited to); Asthma, Emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Asbestosis. Sometimes other tests (X-rays, Blood tests) are required in order to make a more definitive diagnosis. Lung function tests are also used prior to any major surgery.

What service can patients expect to receive?

Depending on the test required, your visit will usually take between 15 and 45 minutes. The tests are not painful, but require a maximum effort in order to achieve accurate results. One of our trained Respiratory Scientists will explain and coach you through the tests and will happily answer any of your questions during your visit.

Below is a basic overview of the most common tests;

Spirometry – This test accesses how much air you can blow out of your lungs. You simply blow into the machine as hard as you can until your lungs are empty.  This is then repeated, after using a puffer, to see if there has been any improvement.

Gas Diffusion (TLco) – This test accesses how well the air can pass through your lungs. We will ask you to fill up your lungs with a gas, hold your breath for about 7-10 seconds then blow out in a machine.

Lung Volumes – This test accesses how big your lungs are. Sitting inside a specially designed machine, you simply breathe normally, then ‘pant’ for a few seconds. We will then ask you to fill up, then empty your lungs.

Maximal Muscle pressures (MRPs) – This test accesses how strong your respiratory muscles are. You simply breathe out into the machine with as much pressure as you can. We will then ask you to breathe in as hard as you can.

Fraction Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) – This test assesses the presence of airway inflammation associated with some types of Asthma. We will ask you to fill up your lungs and gently blow out steadily into a machine for about 7-10 seconds.

Bronchial Provocation Tests – This test accesses whether (or not) you may have asthma. You simply inhale a series of inhaled sugar capsules. After each dose you blow in to the machine as hard as you can. Your scientist will closely monitor the affect.

6 minute walk test – This test accesses your oxygen levels while you walk for 6 minutes. In the some cases, your doctor may request the test to be repeated with the use of oxygen to see if there is any improvement.

Skin Prick Testing – This test accesses whether you may have an allergy to a certain pollen, mould or grass. The test involves placing a drop of the allergen onto your skin, followed by a small prick (like a small scratch). We leave the allergen on your skin for 15 minutes and your scientist will closely observe if there has been a reaction.

Medication Withholding:

Depending on the test being performed, your doctor may ask you to temporarily withhold taking your puffers. This is outlined below.

Test being performed Withholding Time Medication and  other substances Day of test Instruction
Respiratory Function Test
and/or
Bronchial Provocation Test
8 hours
(Any Short acting Puffers)
Ventolin, Asmol, Atrovent, Bricanyl, Airomir Avoid substances containing caffeine
(Such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc) and Smoking
Respiratory Function Test
and/or
Bronchial Provocation Test
48 hours
(Any Long acting Puffers)
Seretide, Symbicort/DuoResp, Spiriva, Flutiform/Cipla, Onbrez, Bretaris, Breo, Ultibro, Seebri, Spiolto, Incruse, Anoro, Brimica, Oxis, Flixotide/Cipla, Qvar, Pulmicort, Alvesco, Trelogy, Serevent Avoid substances containing caffeine
(Such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc) and Smoking
Bronchial Provocation Test 3 days Any Anithistamines Avoid substances containing caffeine
(Such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc) and Smoking or Strenuous Exercise
6 Minute Walk Test 2 hours No Large meals or Strenuous Exercise Please wear loose clothing for Cycling or Walking (no shirts or dresses)
Skin Prick Test 4 days Any Anithistamines, Decongestants and Cold & Flu tablets Please wear loose jumper (access to forearm is required).
FeNO 48 hours Only when asked by your doctor
Seretide, Symbicort/DuoResp, Flutiform/Cipla, Breo, Flixotide/Cipla, Qvar, Pulmicort, Alvesco, Trelogy, Intal, Tilade 
Avoid substances Nitrates (Green leafy vegetables and Smallgoods) or Strenuous exercise.
No food, drink or Smoking is permitted one hour prior to test.

If you are unsure, please call the laboratory to confirm and we can guide you to what puffers you need to withhold.

The laboratory can also provide interpreter services should you require one. Please call the laboratory prior to your visit and we will arrange to have one present for your test.

Once the test is complete, one of our specialists will provide a written report which will be sent to the doctor who requested the tests.

How to access this service?

You will need a referral from your GP or medical practitioner to access this service.

Your GP or specialist will email or fax your referral to the hospital. Once we receive the referral, we will send you a letter with the appointment time. An SMS reminder will be sent to you within a week of your test.

If your doctor has given you the referral, please keep it and bring it along of the day of your test.

What do I bring/need for my appointment?

Every time you come to hospital for a test, day procedure, appointment or treatment, you should bring:

  • Medicare card
  • Health Care card (if you have one)
  • Concession card (if you have one)
  • Adverse drug alert card (if you have one)
  • Medications you are currently taking, including any that you have bought without a prescription
  • X-ray films, scans, ultrasounds or any other test results you have which are related to your procedure
  • Referral from your doctor (if you have a copy)
  • Private health insurance card (if you want to use it)

Contact us
Phone (03) 8405 2444 or Email: respiratorylab@nh.org.au

For Health Professionals

Service Overview

The Department of Respiratory Medicine offers a Lung Function Laboratory which provides full testing services. The laboratory can perform all major tests including spirometry (with reversibility), Diffusing Capacity (TLco), Lung Volumes, FeNO, Maximal Respiratory Pressures, Bronchial Provocation test, 6 minute walk assessments and skin prick allergy testing.

The Respiratory laboratory opened in October 2017 and the team consists of 4 scientists with modern instrumentation. This is backed with a full medical and administration team for efficient reporting turnaround time. Urgent testing slots are available for your urgent studies (same day or next day service). All services are bulk billed and interpreter services are available.

How to Refer:

We accept GP and specialist referrals for this service.

Referrals for Lung function

Referrals for Lung function

Referrals should include:

  • Relevant clinical history for the patient
  • The reason for referral
  • Patient details including address, date of birth and contact phone numbers
  • Your contact details and provider number

Contact us for any appointment bookings or enquires:

Phone (03) 8405 2444 or Email: respiratorylab@nh.org.au

Our Team:

Director/Head of Unit:
Dr Katharine See

Deputy Director/ Laboratory Medical Director:
Dr Liam Hannan

Head Respiratory Scientist/Laboratory Manager:
Mr Nicholas Romeo

Senior Respiratory Scientist:
Ms Kristin Southwell

Respiratory Scientists:
Ms Lauren Tampaline
Mr Karl Hunt
Ms Karizza Martinez (Trainee)

Administration Assistants:
Mrs Robyn Phelan
Mrs Julie Lambert

Enquires:
Phone (03) 8405 2444 or Email: respiratorylab@nh.org.au