Newcastle Pulmonary Function Laboratory
The Laboratory was established in 1994 to provide lung function measurements to the people of the Hunter Valley. Up until recently apart from the John Hunter Hospital it has been the only laboratory providing respiratory function assessment in the Hunter Valley.
The laboratory was the first private laboratory to achieve accreditation from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand confirming the accuracy of measurements and quality of the laboratory processes. The laboratory has now completed a total of three of these – each of 5 years duration – the last achieved in 2016.
The Laboratory provides :
- Detailed Pulmonary Function assessment : Measurement of airway function , static lung volumes and single breath gas transfer capacity of the lungs.
- Spirometry pre and post bronchodilator for assessment of airway function.
- Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) : This is a simple easy to perform test measuring the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide and is done in association with spirometry. It is elevated in airway inflammation , particularly in eosinophilic inflammation. It is particularly helpful in adjusting inhaled steroid doses as an elevated FeNO implies responsiveness to inhaled and oral steroids. Conversely a normal level suggests increasing or adding inhaled steroids is unlikely to be of benefit.
- Bronchial provocation for the assessment of asthma and upper airway dysfunction.
- Inspiratory and expiratory flow volume loops to assess for large airway obstruction.
- Overnight oximetry to screen for obstructive sleep apnoea, assess other causes for nocturnal hypoventilation and assess the adequacy of treatment for lung and breathing disorders when asleep.
- Skin prick tests for allergy.
- Altitude simulation test : to assess subjects responses to exposure to the lower oxygen tensions experienced at altitude – we are able to simulate altitudes equivalent to 8000 to 12000 ft. Examples of altitudes experienced by Australian tourists include -
- Aircraft Cabin pressures = 1830 m to 2440 m or 6,000 to 8000 ft
- Mount Everest base camp = 5,500 m or 18,000 ft
- Mont Blanc = 4,800 m or 15,750 ft
- Kilamanjaro = 5,895 m or 19,341 ft
- Machu Pichu = 2,400 m or 7,875 ft
- Inca trail = 2,750 to 4,270 m or 9,000 to 14,000 ft