Pediatric Pulmonary Function Laboratory
Children are not just little adults when it comes to measuring lung function. Special skill and expertise are required in order to obtain good test results. Our Pediatric Pulmonary Function Laboratory, located in the Ambulatory Care Facility (ACF-1), specializes only in testing children. Our lab is designed completely with a child's comfort in mind— from the engaging decor, compassionate staff, and even the "child-size" equipment used to perform a variety of lung function tests. These tests are non-invasive and painless. In fact, some children even find it fun to participate!
Pulmonary function tests are a series of breathing maneuvers designed to measure the amount of air in the lungs, and how well the lungs function in moving air in and out of the lungs. When children are able to follow simple directions, we are able to perform these easy, non-invasive and painless tests. Standard methods of pulmonary function testing include:
- Spirometry. The technician will ask your child to place soft, brightly colored clips on his/her nostrils to prevent air leakage from the nose. Your child will then need to bite on the mouthpiece and will be coached on how to breath depending on the test being performed. Your child will blow into a small plastic tube that is connected to a computer. The computer measures and records each effort. The technician will work with your child to get the best and most accurate results.
- Oscillometry. This test is also called the "popcorn" test because of the pulses of air that make a vibrating sensation on the child's cheeks and in the chest. Your child will wear the soft nose clips and will breathe through a disposable filtered mouthpiece. He/she will bite on the mouthpiece and breathe normally for 20-30 seconds, take a short break (a few seconds), and will repeat the test several times. This test requires only quiet, relaxed breathing.
- Lung volume measurements. This technique measures the size of the lungs, and how large they expand.
- Exercise testing. At times more specialized testing may be required, such as monitoring lung function following exercise, or to see if the airway is "hyper-responsive." When this is required, baseline testing is performed (see above), then the child is either asked to walk/jog on a treadmill or is monitored while they inhale a specific medication (methacholine) to see if the airway reacts. Children are closely monitored during these studies, and appropriate treatment is always provided when needed. We always make sure the child feels "normal" before they leave the lab.
- Medication. Following initial lung function testing, your child's doctor may give him/her medication through an inhaler, then repeat the lung function testing, looking for any changes following the medication.
In addition, we also have the capability to perform oxygen saturation and exhaled carbon dioxide levels testing, if needed. These tests are also non-invasive, and only require the child to sit quietly while a monitor records the data.
Preparing Your Child