Interpreting pulmonary function tests: Recognize the pattern, and the diagnosis will follow

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ABSTRACTWhen 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.


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