Kootenai Health’s team of registered respiratory care practitioners (RCPs) care for all patients, from the smallest newborn to those at the end of life. Our therapists have a broad knowledge of the pathophysiology of the cardiopulmonary system to diagnose lung diseases and breathing disorders. By incorporating bedside assessment, lab/imaging interpretation, invasive, and non-invasive mechanical ventilation management and protocols, our patients receive the best practice we can provide.
Pulmonary Function Testing
Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are breathing tests to determine how well your lungs move air and oxygen through your body. PFTs typically involve breathing in different patterns – deep breaths, panting, holding your breath, etc. – to assess different aspects of your lung function. The test is performed at Kootenai Health by Respiratory Care Practitioner who is specially trained in these types of testing.
PFTs are performed for a variety of reasons:
- Compare your lung function to known standards
- Measure the severity of chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD, or Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
- Identify early changes in lung function that may benefit from treatment
- Help determine if treatment with certain medications, like bronchodilators, would be beneficial
- Show whether exposure to substances or chemicals in your home or workplace have harmed your lungs
- Determine your ability to tolerate surgery or other medical procedures
How to Prepare
- Do not use inhaled medications for at least 4 hours prior to testing. Consult your physician if you have questions about which medications you should hold the day of testing.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco products for at least 4 hours prior to testing.
- Do not drink alcohol for at least 4 hours prior to the test.
- Do not exercise heavily for at least 30 minutes prior to the test.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothing that restricts your ability to take a full breath
- Do not eat a large meal within 2 hours prior to the test
- Do arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to check-in with Registration at the North Entrance of Kootenai Health. Please bring your ID and a copy of your current insurance card.
- Do bring a copy of your current medications for the technician to review
Please indicate if you have any of the following conditions:
- cold or flu-like symptoms
- recent surgery of any kind
- coughing up blood or colored mucus
- unstable blood pressure
- recent heart attack or stroke
What to Expect
After checking in with the registration department, the Respiratory Care Practitioner will escort you from the lobby to the pulmonary function laboratory.
They will review your medical history, current medications, and any respiratory symptoms relating to your test.
Depending on which tests were ordered by your healthcare provider, the testing may take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
During the test, you will be asked to breathe in various patterns, including deep breaths in, rapid breathing, panting, and holding your breath. The tests are conducted in a clear booth, similar to a phone booth. If you are claustrophobic or get anxious sitting in a confined space, please alert them prior to testing.
Some PFTs include the administration of bronchodilators or other breathing medications. It is important to tell them if you have any allergies to medications.
After the testing is complete, the Respiratory Care Practitioner will escort you back to the lobby. The data from your test will be interpreted by a Pulmonologist then sent to your health care provider(s).
Care for COPD
Kootenai Health established the first COPD Navigation program in the region. This program provides education to patients on their disease process, medication use, lifestyle improvement, and out of hospital resources. The Respiratory Therapy Department also provides a complete pulmonary diagnostics laboratory for both outpatient and inpatient needs.