Pulmonary Function Testing

Mackenzie Health is pleased to provide pulmonary function tests with a scheduled appointment.

What is Pulmonary Function Testing?

A pulmonary function test (PFT) might involve one or several tests of your lungs including spirometry, lung volumes, diffusion testing, and oxygen saturation measurement by oximetry or blood gas sampling. These tests help to determine how well your lungs are functioning. Most involve blowing into a tube with your nose plugged.

 What are the benefits of having a PFT?

PFTs can help diagnose several respiratory conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Respiratory infections
  • Lung fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis, a condition in which the airways in the lungs stretch and widen
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asbestosis, a condition caused by exposure to asbestos
  • Sarcoidosis, an inflammation of your lungs, liver, lymph nodes, eyes, skin, or other tissues
  • Scleroderma, a disease that affects your connective tissue
  • Pulmonary tumor
  • Lung cancer
  • Weaknesses of the chest wall muscles

What are the risks of a PFT?

PFTs are safe and non-invasive. A needle is only required if your doctor requests blood gases be drawn. If you are being tested, you must be able to follow clear, simple directions. During the test you may experience some dizziness, shortness of breath or coughing.

If you have had recent eye, chest, abdominal surgery, or a recent heart attack, you will likely need to delay the test until you have fully recovered.

Can I have a PFT if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

You can have a PFT, however, you can't have a methacholine challenge test.

How do I prepare for a PFT?

You will receive a reminder notification a few days before your scheduled appointment. Please be sure to confirm or cancel your appointment through our automated system.

Your arrival time will vary depending on your appointment type. You will be advised on what time you should arrive by the scheduling office when your appointment is booked.

Before you come in for your testing, please do the following:

  • Bring your valid health card.
  • Follow any preparation instructions provided at the point of scheduling.
  • You can eat before this test, but we do not recommend that you have a large meal.
  • Wear loose-fitted, comfortable clothing.
  • Bring a list of all your medications, including any over-the-counter medications or supplements that you are taking.

As a reminder, Mackenzie Health is a scent-free environment.

How long does a pulmonary function test take?

Depending on the type of test you have, it may take between 30 and 60 minutes.

What is an exercise oximetry test?

An exercise oximetry test is a non-invasive (without a needle) technique in which an estimate of the amount of oxygen in your blood is obtained. A resting oxygen level will be measured and then you will be asked to walk at your normal pace to determine how the oxygen in your blood responds when there is an increased level of activity.

Does the test hurt?

The test doesn’t hurt. A small clip will be placed on your finger and a band on your wrist. This will measure your saturation and your pulse.

Why did my doctor order this test?

There are different reasons why your doctor may order this test, some of which include:

  • You may have been experiencing shortness of breath.
  • You can no longer walk very far without having to stop and catch your breath.
  • To help determine if in-home oxygen therapy is needed.
  • To re-qualify for your home oxygen therapy.

How do I prepare for an oximetry test?

You can prepare for your oximetry test by wearing comfortable shoes, and bringing any walking aides you normally use, like a cane or walker.


What is a methacholine challenge test?

A methacholine challenge test helps to determine if you have asthma, and its severity. The test involves blowing into a mouthpiece with your nose plugged to measure your airflow. These measurements are taken at baseline and after inhaling small and slowly increasing doses of a drug called methacholine.

Methacholine is a drug that mimics a substance that is released by our bodies during an allergic reaction called histamine. If your airways react to the methacholine, your airflow will slowly decrease. The test is stopped if a specific decrease level is reached.

Why did my doctor order this test?

The methacholine challenge test is ordered after you have completed a full PFT. Sometimes it is possible to diagnose asthma during a PFT and no further testing is required. If the results of the PFT do not show a significant enough change to diagnose asthma, the doctor may order a methacholine challenge test.

How should I prepare for this test?

To prepare for this test:

  • Wear loose fitting clothing.
  • You can eat before the test but avoid a large meal.
  • We recommend no coffee, tea, caffeinated drinks or chocolate on the day of your test. Please also refrain from smoking on the day of your test.
  • There is a list of medications/puffers to avoid prior to your test. Please confirm with your referring doctor what those medications are, and when to stop taking them before your test.
  • If you are sick, please call the patient scheduling office at 905-883-1212, ext. 2004 to reschedule your appointment.
  • Bring a complete list of your medications, puffers and allergies.

How long will the test take?

The test takes approximately one hour. At the end of inhaling the levels of methacholine, we will give you salbutamol (ventolin) to reverse any effects. After a brief rest, we will redo part of the test to ensure your breathing has returned to normal and that you are feeling well before the test is complete.

Referring a Patient

A completed pulmonary function requisition form must be completed by a physician for patients to be referred for a PFT at Mackenzie Health.

Please ensure the requisition form includes the referring physician's information and signature, the patient's information and clinical history.

How do I reschedule my appointment?

You can cancel your appointment online using MyChart. To reschedule, call our patient scheduling office at 905-883-1212, ext. 2004 from Richmond Hill or 905-417-2000, ext. 2004 from Vaughan. Please provide at least 48 hours notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

Are you looking for a copy of your images?

Mackenzie Health has partnered with PocketHealth to give patients online access to view and share their images from our hospital and other participating organizations for free! This includes x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans and other medical imaging results.

Log in to your MyChart account to access your images and take advantage of additional features including eCheck-In, lab and test results, preparation instructions for upcoming appointments and more!

What are the benefits to accessing my images online?

By accessing your images online, you can:

  • Gain the knowledge you need to better understand your health.
  • Get personalized insights & preventative health screening tools.
  • View your imaging records online on any device.
  • Share your records with anyone in just a few clicks.

To learn more, please visit the MyChart FAQs section of our website.

How do I sign up to access my images?

  1. Log into your MyChart account, visit the Test Results page and follow the link to our partner site, PocketHealth, to access your images.
  2. Once your records are ready to view, you’ll receive an email from PocketHealth with a secure link.
  3. Instantly download or share your records.
  4. Receiving physicians can then easily view or import these images in full diagnostic quality with no software or account set-up needed.


For appointments at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital:

  • You may park in the visitors parking lot, located just north of the hospital, and enter through the D-wing entrance near the emergency department. Read more about our parking services.
  • Please allow yourself extra time during peak hours, as finding parking can take longer than expected. If possible, consider taking public transit, or getting dropped off by a family member or friend.
  • Check in at patient registration located on the second level of C-wing using one of our self-serve kiosks.

Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital

10 Trench St.
Richmond Hill, ON L4C 4Z3
Local to Richmond Hill: 905-883-1212
Local to Vaughan: 905-832-4554
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