Lung Testing

When your lungs aren’t working as well as they used to, it’s important to find out why. The pulmonology lab at Aurora BayCare offers a full range of tests and advanced procedures to diagnose and monitor lung conditions.

Lung testing is used to:

  • Measure how well your lungs are working
  • Measure how chronic lung diseases (such as asthma, emphysema, or COPD) are affecting your lungs
  • Determine how well your lung treatment is working
  • Identify any narrowing in your airways
  • Determine if your lungs have been damaged by harmful substances
  • Evaluate whether you can tolerate surgery

Pulmonary Function Testing
Correctly diagnosing lung disease is critical to effective treatment. We employ a range of lung function tests to evaluate your lung health and determine the cause of respiratory symptoms.

Our pulmonary function tests include:

  • Arterial blood gas tests: Measure how well your lungs exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with your blood.
  • Bronchial challenge tests: Used to determine how much your airways narrow when exposed to an irritant (e.g., during an asthma attack)
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET): Used to measure heart and lung strength.
  • Exercise and rest pulse oximetry: This test measures the oxygen level in your blood.
  • Lung volume testing: Determines how much air is in your lungs when you inhale deeply and how much remains after you breathe out.
  • Respiratory muscle pressure assessment: Evaluates the strength of your diaphragm and chest muscles when you breathe.
  • Spirometry: Measures how much air you can breathe.

Other Tests for Lung Disorders
In addition to pulmonary function testing, your doctor may request other tests to evaluate your condition. Additional testing may include:

  • Chest X-rays or CT scans: Chest imaging give us important information. We can see the size, shape, and location of your lungs, airways, and the area separating the lungs.
  • Blood tests: These can be used to measure the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your blood, to evaluate kidney and liver function, and to look for other diseases.
  • Bronchoscopy: We insert a long, thin tube with a light on the end down through your throat and into your lungs. This allows us to view your main airways to evaluate and diagnose problems.
  • Robotic bronchoscopy: Aurora BayCare is the first hospital in Wisconsin to offer robotic bronchoscopy. We can diagnose lung cancer sooner, without invasive surgery.
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage: We insert a sterile saline solution into your lungs and then suction it back out. Sometimes called lung washing, this allows us to collect cells from your lower respiratory tract to check for inflammation and infection.
  • Lung biopsy: In this test, a small piece of tissue or fluid from your lungs for closer examination under a microscope.
  • Thoracoscopy: Uses a thin flexible tube inserted through a small incision in the chest. This allows your doctor to view the area between your lungs and the membrane covering your lungs.

Because lung conditions can affect the heart, your doctors may also recommend electrocardiography (ECG) and echocardiography to evaluate your heart health.

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