John Flynn Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Available Tests

Complex Lung Function Tests also called pulmonary function tests or PFT's, evaluate how well your lungs are working. These tests examine your breathing and lungs.

They determine how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs and how well your lungs put oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from your blood.

Complex Lung Function Tests can be used to diagnose and monitor respiratory illness and can also be conducted as a pre-operative risk assessment before anaesthesia and/or surgery.

Spirometry is the most common lung function test performed. It specifically measures the amount (volume) and speed (flow) of air that can be inhaled and exhaled.

Often this test is performed before and after a bronchodilator is administered. Spirometry is indicated for many reasons including to diagnose or manage asthma, to detect respiratory disease in patients presenting with symptoms of breathlessness and to distinguish respiratory from cardiac conditions.

A High Altitude Simulation Test (HAST) is a lung function test specifically designed to assess an individual's fitness to fly with breathlessness or underlying lung disease.

During this test, we are able to simulate the low oxygen environment experienced while flying and measures any drops in oxygen levels while sitting and standing. If oxygen levels fall below 85%, in-flight oxygen may be recommended.

We can then determine whether oxygen will be required to be safe at altitude and if so, how much each individual needs.

Fitness to Fly

For many people with lung conditions, the low oxygen and low pressure environment of the cabin can prove to be very demanding on their cardiac and respiratory systems.

All airlines are required to maintain at least 75% of the air pressure at sea level. This lower air pressure equates to reduced oxygen levels. The body increases its breathing rate to counter this reduction in oxygen. A healthy individual could expect to see their oxygen saturations drop to 5% of normal. People with lung problems however, can experience a sharp decrease in oxygen levels especially while performing light exercise (such as standing and sitting) and therefore may require in-flight oxygen.

Tips for the traveller

Holidays are generally fun events. However careful planning is required to prevent the onset of respiratory exacerbations or to prevent the worsening of an already existing respiratory condition.

  • Buy a flexible ticket and ensure you have adequate travel insurance
  • Take all of your medical documentation with you
  • Arrange your oxygen (if required) well in advance
  • Request a seat near the bathroom
  • Take suitcases with wheels

This test is indicated for individuals where underlying asthma is suspected but where apparent asthma is not detected on spirometry. A Bronchial Provocation Test measures bronchial hyper responsiveness and is necessary for precise aetiological diagnosis in bronchial asthma.

It is now recognised as the gold standard provocation test in assessing airway hyper-activity e.g. asthma, exercise induced asthma and cough variant asthma.

Maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressures (MIP's and MEP's) is a crude measurement of respiratory muscle strength. There are groups of muscles used to breathe in (inhale) and breathe out (exhale). This test is designed to assess diaphragm weakness.

When these muscles become weak, it can cause problems with normal lung function and result in breathing difficulties.