Breathing and Lung Function Tests

Peninsula Pulmonary Function Laboratory is an accredited Laboratory through the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) and is part of the Peninsula Respiratory Group.

The Laboratory conducts a range of breathing and allergy tests which help in the diagnosis of various lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema and lung fibrosis, as well as other disorders such as muscle weakness and blood clots in the lungs.

Tests are also used to monitor the response to treatment of known lung and chest wall disorders. Tests are only conducted upon referral from a medical practitioner.

All testing is carried out using state of the art equipment, by fully trained respiratory scientists. The results are reported by the Medical Director, or one of the other experienced respiratory physicians associated with the Laboratory.

View our list of breathing tests performed within our Laboratory below.

How to prepare for your lung function test

Please bring on the day or email us on reception@peninsularespiratory.com.au:

In preparation of your breathing test you need to stop some medication. Depending on which test you need to do, please follow the instructions in:

"How to prepare for your lung function test"
"How to prepare for your bronchial challenge test (Histamine, Saline, Mannitol test)"

If you have a Skin Prick test, please stop anti-histamine tablets 4 days prior to testing.

Preparation on the day

  • No smoking/vaping for 8 hours prior to testing.
  • No alcohol, coffee, tea or caffeine containing drinks.
  • No vigorous exercise.
  • A blood test is required with full lung function tests. This will be organised upon your arrival.
  • Please arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.
  • There is no extra cost to this blood test.

If you have any questions, please contact reception on (02) 9975 4911.

What kind of tests are performed in Peninsula Pulmonary Function Laboratory?

The lung function laboratory has a comprehensive range of breathing and exercise and tests. The laboratory can also perform specific skin allergy testing and several different bronchial challenge tests to assist in the diagnosis of asthma.

Furthermore, complex blood gas tests and shunt studies can diagnose oxygen levels and potentially mismatches of oxygen delivery in the body.

Most common lung function tests are spirometry or flow volume loop with bronchodilator response, total lung capacity and oxygen transfer capacity.

The laboratory sees patients from a very young age (approx. 6 years old) to the elderly. The tests can take up between 30 to 45 minutes in total and includes lots of resting.

The lung function results assist the doctor to assess, diagnose and treat any lung problems. Below you can read in more detail what each test encompasses.

Full pulmonary (lung) function test

The pulmonary function test will assess how well your lungs work. During these lung tests you will be seated and breathing room air through a mouthpiece with a nose peg on.

The respiratory technician is in the room with you and will coach you through different breathing exercises.

This complex test will measure airflows before and after lung medication, total lung capacity (lung volumes) and oxygen transfer.

This test will provide the doctor a good general overview of how your lungs are functioning.

Spirometry

Spirometry is also called flow-volume loop as it measures your airflows.

Starting with normal breathing, the respiratory scientist will ask you take a big breath in and expel the air as fast as possible until your lungs are empty.

The test will be repeated a couple of times to meet global respiratory guidelines.

The technician will give you a bronchodilator (i.e. Ventolin) and after 10 to 15 minutes the test will be repeated to see if the inhalation medication made any difference in your breathing.

The air flows measured are an indication of shortness of breath and if there is any reversibility on inhalation puffers.

Lung volumes

This pulmonary test is to measure your total lung capacity, including an analysis of your breathing level and the volume of air that remains in your lungs when you are fully exhaled (residual volume).

It provides information on your lung size and potential obstructive or restrictive lung disease.

During this test you will be sitting in a glass unit (like a telephone box) while breathing through the mouthpiece and with a nose peg on your nose. It is a quick test and the technician will guide you through the test.

Lung volumes measurement is part of the Full pulmonary function test.

Diffusion or Gas transfer capacity

This breath holding test analyses your oxygen uptake by breathing in a harmless gas mixture.

Whilst breathing normally first, you exhale until you are empty, breathe in until you are full and then hold your breath for 9 seconds. After the breath-hold you empty your lungs again.

The lung function test is part of the Full pulmonary function test as described above.

Airway resistance

This lung function test can be added to the lung volumes test as mentioned above.

It provides specific information about how much resistance you experience during breathing. In other words, how easy or difficult it is for you to breathe.

The test takes about 15 minutes.

Respiratory muscle strength

This lung function test is to measure how strong your breathing muscles are.

In this test you will be breathing through a mouthpiece again and on the instruction of the respiratory scientist you will be pushing or sucking against a blockage as strongly as you can.

This test will inform the physician if there is any muscle weakness that could make it harder for you to breathe.

Home oximetry

You will have 2 appointments for this particular test.

On the first day you will collect the device from the lung function laboratory.

The technician will explain and show you how to wear the device.

The oximeter is a small device that can be worn as a watch and is connected to a probe on your finger. You will wear the device during the night whilst you are asleep.

This mini sleep study test will monitor your oxygen levels and heart rate. The results can indicate if you have low oxygen during sleep (eg. sleep apnea) that might need further investigation.

The next morning you will return the device to the laboratory where the technician will download the oximeter and will inform you if the test was successful.

High Altitude Simulation test

During this test we will simulate the condition during a commercial flight, it is a so called “fit-to-fly” test.

You will be breathing in 15% of oxygen for 30 minutes while the technician will monitor your heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. The last 3 minutes you will be marching on the spot to replicate you moving around the cabin during flight.

If your oxygen levels drop below a certain level, the technician can decide to add supplemental oxygen to return your saturation to normal levels.

6 Minute walk test

You will be asked to walk as fast as you can for 6 minutes on a set indoor circuit. The respiratory technician will monitor your heart rate and oxygen levels throughout. Please dress comfortably with flat shoes.

Capillary blood gases

This painless blood sample will be taken from your earlobe.

It will measure several respiratory parameters, like your blood oxygen pressure, carbon dioxide, PH and so forth.

It will help the doctors to assess any acute/chronic respiratory or metabolic issues.

Shunt study

You will be breathing in 100% oxygen for 20 to 30 minutes.

At the end of the test the technician or doctor will take a blood gas sample from your wrist to measure oxygen pressures in your blood.

The results will explain if there is a mismatch (shunt) between oxygen delivery to your lungs and into your blood. This could assist the doctor in investigating unexplained shortness of breath or high haemoglobin levels.

Bronchial Challenge test

This is an allergy test for your lungs to assess if you have asthma.

During this test you will be breathing in a mist or a powder via an inhaler.

The challenge test will measure lung sensitivity to the inhalation agents and could make you cough or a bit short of breath. Sometimes, patients do not react to the inhalations at all. Your respiratory technician will coach you through several sets of inhalations and breathing exercises. The respiratory scientist will monitor you closely and give you a bronchodilator at the end of the test to reverse any symptoms.

The most common bronchial challenge tests are Mannitol, Histamine or Saline challenge tests.

The Bronchial Challenge results will assist the doctor to assess allergic asthma and/or exercise induced asthma.

The Saline challenge test can also be used for scuba diving assessments.

Skin prick test

This test is to assess and measure any allergic reactions to certain airborne allergens, like dust mite, pollen, mould, cat hair and so forth.

During this test the technician will place a small drop of the allergen on the inside of your forearms and gently ‘scratch’ the skin with a mini lancet. It is a painless procedure without any injections.

A positive reaction will cause a small wheal to occur, that can be a bit itchy (like a mosquito bite). After 15 minutes the reactions will be measured and recorded, and a soothing cream will be applied to relief any itchiness. The test will take 30 minutes.

Fractional Nitric Oxide on exhalation (FeNO)

It is a quick and easy test where you blow steadily into a tube for 10 to 12 seconds.

The technician will guide you through the test with an animation on the screen to help you blow out at the right speed.

The test will be repeated a couple of times for consistency.

The non-invasive test is a measurement of inflammation of the lower airways, which is useful in the assessment of asthma treatment.


Our Staff

Robyn Cooper
Respiratory Scientist
Diploma of Applied Science, Cumberland College of Health Science

Robyn has been with the Laboratory since 2013.


Jessica Hurley
Respiratory Scientist
Bachelor of Medical Science (Advanced), Western Sydney University

Jessica has been with the Laboratory since 2021 and is currently studying a Master in Forensic Science at the University of Technology Sydney.


Thomas Bale
Respiratory Scientist
Bachelor of Medical Sciences, Macquarie University Sydney, Bachelor of Science in Nanotechnology, University of Technology Sydney

Thomas has been with the laboratory since 2022.


Carolina Langbroek
Respiratory Laboratory Manager
Master of Business Administration, University of New England
Bachelor degree in Respiratory Science, Dutch Society of Specialists in Lung Disease and Tuberculosis
Accredited Clinical Physiologist (ACP)

Carolina has been with the laboratory since 2020. She has worked in several clinical and commercial roles within Respiratory and Sleep Medicine since 1993. Her focus is on patient experience and quality assurance to maintain the highest standard of patient care.

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