Use of pulmonary function testing in the diagnosis of asthma
- Charles G Irvin, PhD
Charles G Irvin, PhD
- University of Vermont Department of Medicine
The pathophysiology of asthma is characterized by a pattern of lung dysfunction that includes [1,2]:
●Airflow limitation that reverses with bronchodilator administration.
●Variable airflow limitation, which can be either circadian or episodic in nature.
●Airways hyperresponsiveness, which is an excessive decrease in airflow in response to specific stimuli or "triggers" (see "Risk factors for asthma").
Unlike other pulmonary diseases, asthma cannot be identified by a definitive pathologic picture or one diagnostic test. Rather, the diagnosis of asthma is based upon an appropriate clinical history and characteristic findings from a series of pulmonary function tests [1-4]. These tests most often include different measures of airflow, bronchodilator responses, lung volumes, and the diffusing capacity.
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- MEASURES OF AIRFLOW LIMITATION
- Peak expiratory flow rate
- Flow-volume relationships
- Bronchodilator responses
- Bronchoprovocation challenge
- LUNG VOLUMES
- Measurement of functional residual capacity
- Residual volume
- Functional residual capacity
- Total lung capacity
- DIFFUSING CAPACITY
- OTHER PULMONARY FUNCTION TESTS
- Respiratory muscle function
- Tests not requiring patient effort
- Control of breathing
- Lung static recoil
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS