The Lung Lab
The Lung Lab provides lung function testing services to both inpatients and outpatients of the WCH, and also services the wider community through GP and specialist referrals.
Welcome to The Lung Lab of the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia.
The Laboratory is situated on the 6th floor of the Gilbert Building and is a part of the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine. Established in 1976, the Laboratory provides lung function testing, allergy testing and an oximetry service for babies, children and adolescents of South Australia, Northern Territory and Western New South Wales and Victoria
About our Service
Our lab is the only dedicated paediatric facility for lung function testing between the East and West coasts of Australia. The Lab is able to provide lung function testing services to both inpatients and outpatients of the hospital, and we also service the wider community through GP and specialist referrals. The Lab staff also administer a screening oximetry service and perform skin allergy testing.
The most common conditions we encounter include asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic lung disease of prematurity, muscular dystrophy and bronchiectasis.
The following test procedures are offered:
- Baseline Spirometry Bronchodilator Spirometry Lung Volumes Diffusing Capacity
- Respiratory Muscle Pressures (MIPS/MEPS)
- Exhaled Nitric Oxide
- Aridol Challenge
- Exercise Challenge for Asthma
- Skin Allergy Testing (aero allergens)
- Forced Oscilometry
- Altitude Simulation Testing
- Daytime Oximetry
- Exercise Oximetry
- Overnight Ward Oximetry
- Overnight Home Oximetry Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test
How to access this service
Booking a test
Booking of a test with the The Lung Lab can occur a number of ways:
- Most commonly, patients will receive a request form from their specialist or doctor requesting a test. They then take these requests into the The Lung Lab where an appointment can be made or ring the Lab on (08) 8161 6235.
- Specialist or doctor sends the request to the The Lung Lab requesting that we send out an appointment. When this occurs you will be sent an appointment through the post. If you feel that you should have been contacted, but have not, please feel free to make contact with the Lab on (08) 8161 6235.
Where possible, Lab staff will try to arrange your test appointments to coincide with your other appointments at the Hospital. Please note that if you have an appointment with a Respiratory Medicine Consultant that is cancelled or rescheduled, the coinciding test appointment is separate and must be cancelled/rescheduled by calling the Lab.
Monday – Friday, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
About our tests
Our Lab offers a range of tests that are used to assist in the diagnosis of lung disease and the monitoring of existing conditions.
These tests include:
Some common breathing conditions like asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema cause narrowing of the airways (bronchial tubes) and result in shortness of breath. The greater the degree of narrowing, the more difficult breathing becomes. A machine called a spirometer is used to measure how quickly a person can blow all of the air out their lungs after completely filling them. Also, the person will be asked to breathe in as quickly as possible to fill their lungs from empty. The machine will display what is known as a flow-volume curve which graphically represents the rate of emptying (or filling) the lungs in relation to the volume of air moved.
This test is valuable for determining the amount of airway narrowing.
Often, the test is repeated after taking a "reliever" medication called to see whether the airways respond to this drug. If this test is performed on its own, you should allow approximately 40 minutes for it to be completed.
Children may need to withhold certain medications prior to testing – see Preparing for a Test.
The basic function of the lungs is to get oxygen into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide out. For this to happen, these gases must cross the very thin lung membrane which separates the blood flowing through the lungs from air breathed into the lungs. The carbon monoxide diffusing capacity test measures how easily gases pass through this membrane. This valuable information is used to assess the severity of lung conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis where the function of the membrane may be impaired.
The test is quick and easy to do. It takes about 15 minutes and involves taking a deep breath of a special gas mixture from a spirometer, breath holding for about 10 seconds, and breathing out again.
A machine that looks something like a glass cabinet or telephone booth with a door is used to measure the volume of air that can be contained within a person's lungs. Also, when a person empties their lungs completely there is an amount of air that remains in the lungs that can’t be shifted. This volume gives valuable information when compared with the overall lung volume.
The person will be asked to sit quietly in the cabinet with the door closed for a short period and then asked to breathe gently for a minute or so. For a short period (around 1 sec) a shutter is closed and the person asked to breath in and out against this gently. This allows pressure measurements to be obtained which are used to determine lung volume. The complete test takes about 5 minutes.
A machine called a pulse oximeter is used to measure the amount of oxygen that is contained within the bloodstream. A bandaid like sensor is applied on one of the fingers and readings are taken. This completely painless method allows a reading of heart rate (beats per minute) and oxygen level. See Preparing for a Test.
For more information on home oximetry instructions, view the video below .
These tests are used to aid in the diagnosis of asthma or to monitor the effectiveness of asthma treatment.
There are two methods available in our laboratory. In the first method Aridol (manitol) is inhaled as a powder and if the airways are sensitive, they will respond by becoming narrower. Spirometry measurements are taken to see whether narrowing has occurred. If a certain degree of narrowing occurs then this helps in obtaining a diagnosis. Allow 1 hour for this test. Exercise challenges involve riding on a bicycle ergometer for 5 – 8 minutes at 80% of your maximal heart rate. Spirometry measurements are taken after the exercise is complete to determine if airway narrowing occurs. Exercise Challenges may be particularly useful to exclude airway narrowing as the cause of breathlessness during exercise. Exercise challenge testing takes approximately 1½ hours.
As these tests involve repetitive spirometry performance to monitor changes in lung function, patients attempting these test protocols must be proficient in performing spirometry.
Children may need to withhold certain medication prior to testing – see Preparing for a Test.
This test involves the technician placing drops of allergen solutions onto the forearm and then scratching through these drops to introduce the allergen under the skin. Technicians will look for a wheal and flare reaction that will look similar to a mosquito bite. This reaction is measured 20 minutes after application of allergens. Children will need to withhold antihistamine medication prior to testing – see Preparing for a Test.
Skin Allergy Testing takes 45 minutes to complete.
Preparing for a test
Lung Function Testing is generally painless and in our experience, once at ease, many children have fun trying to get a good result. Our technical staff are very experienced in teaching / communicating with children of all ages.
Many of our tests have specific requirements that must be followed for the test to give the required information. Following are instruction sheets for our test procedures.
- Challenge Testing
- Lung Function Tests
- Overnight Home Oximetry
- Overnight Ward Oximetry
- Skin Prick Testing
On completion of testing, results are saved in our database and are collated on a weekly basis for reporting by the appropriate consultant. Once this is complete, results are returned to the Lab for processing and mailing out to the referring doctor. This process can take up to 3 weeks to be completed.
If test results are required prior to them being mailed out, the referring doctor is encouraged to telephone the Lab so that an interim copy (either reported or unreported) can be faxed out.
All the tests performed in the The Lung Lab are bulk billed to Medicare and there is no gap payment.
Please bring your Medicare Card with you to your appointment.
(08) 8161 6235
(08) 8161 8388
The Lung Lab
Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Level 6 Gilbert Building
72 King William Road
NORTH ADELAIDE SA 5006
Our current staff members are listed below. For general enquiries or further information please contact us.
Dr Andrew Tai
Paediatric Respiratory and Sleep Physician
Chief Medical Scientist
Dr David Parsons
Cathy Pendergrast CRFS
Senior Technical Officer
Paul G Rogers