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Pulmonary Function Testing

At Randolph Health, we offer pulmonary function tests—a series of five tests that measure lung function. These tests provide information about the amount of air a person's lungs can hold and how effectively the lungs work. They also look at the forcefulness of an individual's breathing.

A pulmonary function test may be done when a person has shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The test can be used to diagnose respiratory conditions, including:

  • Abnormal blood flow to the lungs, such as pulmonary hypertension
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • Reactive airway disease, such as asthma
  • Other respiratory diseases, such as cystic fibrosis

Once a respiratory problem has been diagnosed, pulmonary function tests can be used to monitor response to treatment. A pulmonary function test is made up of the following five tests:


The match test checks the force of exhalations. The individual lights a match and holds it 6 inches from the mouth. The person exhales as hard as possible with an open mouth to blow out the flame.

Forced Expiratory Time (FET)

The FET test can be done at home. The individual takes as deep a breath as possible. The person then opens the mouth wide and exhales as fast as possible. The exhalation time is measured in seconds with a watch.

Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF)

The PEF test uses a peak-flow meter. This is a simple, handheld machine. The individual inhales and blows into the meter as hard as possible. This is repeated three times and the highest value is noted.

Maximum Volume Ventilation (MVV)

The MVV test uses an instrument called a spirometer. The individual blows into the mouthpiece of the spirometer as hard and as fast as possible for 15 seconds. This result is multiplied by four to give the value for one minute.

Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)

Both the FVC test and the forced expiratory volume (FEV1), which measures forced expiratory volume in one second, use a spirometer. The individual inhales and blows into the spirometer as hard and as fast and long as possible. The procedure is repeated three times and the highest numbers are recorded.