Go To The Lung Centre Homepage
Our Clinics
Location Info
What We Do
Programs
Clinical Trials
Tests
Walk-in Clinic
Forms
FAQ

Tests

This page is under construction. If you need immediate information please give us a call at 604-875-4122.

Allergy Skin Test
On the inside surface or your arm (with palm up), small drops of liquid containing potential allergens are placed. The surface of the skin is then scratched with a small needle (through the drop of liquid) and the reaction is measured ten minutes later. If you do react to the allergen, a small red bump will form where the skin was scratched, something like a mosquito bite and it may be itchy. The size of the bump is measured and recorded and in this way, along with your health history, it can be determined if you have an allergy or not. If you do have allergies, an educator is available to counsel you on how to reduce your exposure to the allergen(s). About 70% of people who have asthma have allergies as well so this is a very common test. The test itself takes about 20 minutes to complete and the arm will be wiped clean of the allergens before you leave the office. You may be asked to stay for a short while after the test is done, to make sure that you do not have a bigger, delayed reaction. The results are immediately available to the doctor. There are certain medications you should abstain from before taking the test or they may make the test invalid. Please click here to see a list.
[go to top]

Arterial Blood Gas
A sample of blood is taken from an artery in your wrist to determine the
amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. This sample is needed in order for the doctor to be able to order home oxygen therapy for you.
[go to top]

Methacholine Challenge
This test helps to determine if your lungs have reactive airways. You will be asked to inhale a mist with different concentrations of a chemical called "methacholine". Before and after each dose, you will blow forcefully into a machine to measure any changes in your breathing. The test takes 1-2 hours.

Side effects may include: Mild shortness of breath, cough, tight chest, wheeze and/or headache. If any of these occur, they will be short lasting and will disappear following the inhalation of a medication to reverse any side effects.

Avoid caffeine for eight hours before the test (coffee, tea, cola and chocolate). Any meal before the test should be light.

NOTE: if you are unable to make the appointment, please call 604-875-4830 24 hours prior to cancel and rebook. Please call the lab if you may be pregnant, are breastfeeding, or have had a cold within 2 weeks of the appointment.

The Lung Function Lab is a scent-free environment.

If you are taking breathing medication, please click here for times to withhold them.
[go to top]

Overnight Oximetry
An overnight oximetry test measures your blood oxygen level and heart rate while you sleep.

A finger probe shines a light through your finger to measure your heart rate and blood oxygen level. Information is gathered and stored in the machine while you sleep. You must bring the machine back to the lab, where you picked it up, the next morning. For instructions on how to set the machine up at home click here.
[go to top]

Oximetry
The test is painless, fast and easy. A small plastic probe is clipped onto your index finger, an infra-red light shines through your finger and a reading of the oxygen level in your blood and your heart rate is immediately produced. The doctor may ask you to do this 'at rest' (while sitting) or while walking.
[go to top]

Pulmonary Function Test
This breathing test is more detailed and longer than a Spirometry. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. You will be coached through a series of breathing tests and may be given a breathing medication part way through to see if it changes your lung function.

The results are then interpreted by a lung specialist and sent to your family doctor and/or lung specialist. You may be asked to withhold some medications before taking the test.
[go to top]

Sleep Study
This study is done at the Sleep Lab at UBC Hospital and requires you to stay overnight at the hospital. A number of probes and wires will be attched to you to record information while you sleep. Among other things, your oxygen and breathing patterns are measured and the results are available in the morning for the lung specialist to interpret. They will tell you whether or not you have sleep apnea and if you need a device to prevent you from stopping breathing while you sleep. To read more about sleep apnea click here.
[go to top]

Spirometry
This is a short, simple breathing test requiring you to take a deep breath and blow out hard into a mouthpiece. The spirometer records how much and how fast you blow air out of your lungs. You usually have to do this at least three times to get your best effort. The test takes about 15 minutes and the results are immediately available for your visit with the lung specialist.  If your doctor wants you to do the test before and after Ventolin  (Salbutamol), an inhaled medication that relaxes the muscles around your breathing tubes in your lungs, the test will take a total of about 30 minutes.

To view video demo in English click here.
To view video demo in Punjabi click here.
To view video demo in Chinese Traditional click here.
To view video demo in Chinese Simplified click here.
To view video demo in Spanish click here.
[go to top]

Sputum Induction
The aim of the sputum induction test is for you to be able to cough up a sample of sputum from your lungs. The sample is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results give your doctor more information about what sort of cells are in your lungs and, therefore, helps guide your treatment.

During the test you will be asked to inhale different concentrations of a salt water mist. This mist makes it easier for you to produce the sputum sample from your lungs. Before the sputum induction test and after each inhalation you will be asked to perform a breathing test (see information on Spirometry). This is so the technologist can monitor any changes in your breathing.

Sputum induction takes approximately 1ΒΌ hours and it is advisable not to eat anything for about 1 hour before the test.
[go to top]

24 Hour pH monitor
A thin tube is placed in your esophagus (through your nose) to measure the acid in your stomach for 24 hours. You will record information throughout the day such as meals eaten and activities or symptoms experienced. It requires two trips to the lab - one to have it placed and one again the following day to have it removed. This test will show if you have acid coming up from your stomach into your esophagus (tube from your mouth to your stomach) and your trachea (windpipe) and lungs.

Many people with asthma have this stomach acid coming up (reflux) and many people have this without symptoms but it aggravates their asthma without them knowing it. Some people have 'heartburn' when the acid comes up but many do not feel the 'heartburn'. This is why it is important to have the acid measured with this tube if the doctor thinks it may be a cause of your cough or may be making your asthma worse.

To read more about reflux click here.
[go to top]

Walking Desaturation Study (or Walking Oximetry)
A small plastic probe is placed on your finger and you will walk on a flat surface until your oxygen level in your blood drops to a certain level or until you ask for the test to be stopped. This test is done by trained personel in a safe environment.

The doctor needs the results from this test in order to determine if you need to use extra oxygen when you are walking or exercising. The results are immediately available for the lung specialist.
[go to top]

VCH Logo