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An update on contraindications for lung function testing


Guidelines on contraindications for lung function tests have been based on expert opinion from >30 years ago. High-risk contraindications to lung function testing are associated with cardiovascular complications such as myocardial infarct, pulmonary embolism or ascending aortic aneurysm. Slightly less risky but still serious contraindications are predominantly centred on recovery from major thoracic, abdominal or head surgery. Less serious surgical procedures will present a possible risk, but the RR depends upon whether the lung function is essential or can wait until the patient's condition improves. In recent decades there have been moves towards less invasive surgical techniques, keyhole surgery and new technology such as laser surgery which minimise the amount of collateral damage to surrounding tissues. In thoracic surgery there is a shift in emphasis to quicker postsurgical mobility. Furthermore there has been little analysis of the scientific facts behind the current recommendations and contraindications. The principle absolute and relative contraindications are in need of revision, and recommended times of abstaining from lung function tests needs to be reviewed. This review aims to outline the key issues and suggests newer recommendations for contraindications for performing lung function using a risk matrix, as well as offering alternative approaches to testing patients who may be at risk of complication from testing. In general, the previous recommendation of waiting for 6 weeks after surgical procedures or medical complications before performing lung function can often now be reduced to <3 weeks with modern less invasive surgical techniques.

  • Lung function tests
  • contraindications
  • risk
  • surgery lung physiology
  • respiratory measurement
  • lung physiology

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