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Respiratory Medicine
 

Spirometry Diffusion Capacity (DLCO) – A Guide for Patients

A spirometry/diffusion capacity (DL CO) test may assist in the evaluation and diagnosis of your breathing difficulty. The purpose of this test(s) might include but is not limited to:
· Determining the cause of shortness of breath
· Assessing the effectiveness of certain drugs used in the treatment of breathing disorders
· Determining if your breathing difficulty is obstructive (limiting air flow in the lungs) or restrictive (limiting the volume of the lungs)
· Estimating the extent of known respiratory disease

Prep: You should not smoke for at least 12 hours (preferably 24 hours) prior to test. You should avoid eating a heavy meal one to two hours prior to test. You should consult your physician about which, if any, medications you should withhold prior to testing. If you wear dentures that do not fit properly, you might be asked to remove them for the test.

Spirometry
Description:
A technician, certified or registered in pulmonary testing, will conduct your testing. Following the technician's directions, you will blow into a device called a spirometer. The amount of air as well as the speed you breathe out is measured. This test will be repeated three to four times.

Diffusion Capacity
Description:
You will be instructed to exhale then inhale rapidly and hold your breath for approximately eight seconds. After the eight seconds have passed you will be asked to blow out again. The test will be repeated two or more times.

The breathing tests you will perform are extremely safe. On rare occasions, someone will experience dizziness or lightheadedness after blowing into the testing device. If you are in any way concerned about doing this test, please talk with your doctor.

Other factors that may affect test results:
· Lack of cooperation on your part
· Pregnancy
· Stomach distension
· A poor seal around the mouthpiece or tube
· Recent cigarette or other tobacco use After the test is completed, a preliminary copy of the results will be faxed to your physician. A pulmonologist, a doctor who specializes in breathing problems, will interpret your test, usually within 24 hours. A final report will then be sent to your physician. There are no special instructions after the test. Start taking any medications that were withheld before the test. Return to all your pretest activities.

Eastern Maine Medical Center