Interpreting pulmonary function tests: Recognize the pattern, and the diagnosis will follow
We present an overview, an algorithm, and three cases to explain how to use these tests to identify the pattern of respiratory dysfunction.
FEYROUZ AL-ASHKAR, MD
Department of General Internal Medicine, The Cleveland Clinic
REENA MEHRA, MD
Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University Hospitals, Cleveland
PETER J. MAZZONE, MD, MPH
Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The Cleveland Clinic
ADDRESS: Peter J. Mazzone, MD, FRCP, MPH, Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, A90, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When interpreting pulmonary function tests, one should first try to determine the pattern of abnormality: is it obstructive, restrictive, or normal? Pulmonary function tests cannot by themselves distinguish among the potential causes of abnormalities, and must be interpreted in light of the patient's history, physical examination, and ancillary studies. Once a pattern is recognized, the diagnosis will often follow.