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University Hospital to offer pulmonary function on-site testing for children and adolescents

While peak flow meters often are used in doctors' offices for patients with asthma, a device called a spirometer is considered to be the most advanced and proven technology to determine pulmonary function accurately.

University Hospital's Pulmonary Function On-site Testing program (PFOST) is providing spirometry testing to children and adolescents through requesting physicians offices and community and school based health clinics. Ran Anbar, M.D., director of University Hospital's Pediatric Pulmonary Center, serves as medical director and initiator of this community outreach health service. According to Anbar, the PFOST program can help determine whether a young person has lung disease, document whether a patient under treatment for asthma is optimally controlled, and gauge the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions in the management of patients with asthma.

PFOST Program Coordinator Jancy Mathews says that many private physicians currently use peak flow meters in their practices to detect improper lung function. However, this device only measures airflow in the large airways, and asthma is a disease primarily of the small airways. "Spirometry measures air flow in both the large and small airways and is a much better indicator of pulmonary function for a child with asthma," said Mathews.

To test children who are suspected of pulmonary abnormalities, PFOST uses portable spirometric equipment that looks like a hand-held cylinder chamber connected to a small computer-like device. The testing can be performed in an exam, treatment or consultation room by a licensed respiratory therapist who has been trained to work with children at University Hospital's Pediatric Pulmonary Center. The testing takes approximately 40 minutes and requires the patient to exhale into a mouthpiece.

The computer-like device graphically shows pulmonary function as the child is being tested. At the request of the health provider, the respiratory therapist will review asthma signs and symptoms and medication side effects with patients and their families. Written interpretation of the spirometric testing and recommendations by a pediatric pulmonologist are available to the physician by fax and/or mail on the business day after testing.

For more information about PFOST or to schedule a session of the program in an office or clinic, contact University Hospital's Pediatric Pulmonary Center at 315-464 7525.