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Need directions to a department or clinic? Want to visit a patient? We're here to help!

Use our "Virtual Information Desk", accessible at the top of any page on our website by clicking on this Visitor Information Panel icon icon, to help answer common questions or help you find your way before and during your hospital visit.

Of course, you can visit our onsite main Information Desk located at the Melnyk Entrance (off of the Queensway) which is open from 7am to 9pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 9pm Weekends and Holidays. Feel free to call us at 416-530-6000.

Find us at St. Joes
St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

Respirology

Our Respiratory Therapy Service consists of respirologists, respiratory therapists, pulmonary function technologists and polysomnographers who provide respiratory diagnostic procedures and therapeutic interventions. Our team diagnoses and treats those with respiratory disease and provides education in the management of their care.

This service is part of our medical diagnostics portfolio, which specializes in the diagnostic services related to cardiology, respiratory and neurology. The department provides clinical and diagnostic interventions to an inpatient and outpatient population.

This service includes sleep lab assessments.

It also includes our Pulmonary Function Lab, which offers a wide range of pulmonary function tests – breathing tests – that are ordered by a physician and used in the assessment and management of lung disease. You will be asked to perform various breathing procedures through a mouthpiece connected to electronic equipment or exercise. The testing can last 15 to 60 minutes depending on which specific tests are ordered.

The type of tests we provide include:

  • Pulmonary function test (breathing test)
  • Spirometry/flow-volume loop (breathing test)
  • Methacholine challenge (asthma test)
  • Exercise-induced asthma test
  • Exercise testing on a bicycle or treadmill
  • Arterial blood gases (blood test)
  • Walk test to measure oxygen level and heart rate

To learn more about what each test involves, please click on the “Types of tests” tab above.

As some procedures require a consent form to be signed, all patients under the age of 17 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The Pulmonary Function Lab is staffed by pulmonary function technologists. They are part of a team of specialist physicians, educators and respiratory therapists.
You will be notified of the time of your appointment by the Pulmonary Function Lab, either by telephone or mail. Depending on the test you are having, some test preparation instructions may need to be followed.

For additional information please visit:

There are several types of test our team provides patients:

Full pulmonary function study

45 minutes in length
Full pulmonary function testing is a non-invasive test that assesses general breathing function. You will be required to perform different breathing manoeuvers through a mouthpiece attached to electronic equipment.

Preparation:

  • No specific preparation required – please take your medications and inhalers unless instructed otherwise. Please bring your inhalers with you to the appointment.

Spirometry (flow-volume loop)

15-30 minutes in length
Spirometry or a flow-volume loop is a test that assesses lung function. This test is one part of a full pulmonary function study. You will be required to breathe in and out through a mouthpiece attached to electronic equipment. If required, the test may be repeated after administration of a bronchodilator (breathing medication).

Preparation:

  • No specific preparation required – please take your medications and inhalers unless instructed otherwise. Please bring your inhalers with you to the appointment.

Methacholine challenge test

45 minutes in length
Methacholine challenge testing is a non-invasive test to assist in the diagnosis of asthma. You will inhale a methacholine mist and a breathing test will be performed before and after.

Note: A methacholine challenge test cannot be done if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Preparation:

  • If you are using any of the medications in the chart below, please avoid using them for the period indicated or as advised by your respiratory specialist. If you must use the medication within the period before the test, please contact your doctor’s office as your test may need to be rescheduled.
Medication Do not take before the test for:
Ventolin/salbutamol, Bricanyl (SABA) 8 hours
Atrovent/ipratropium, Combivent (SAMA) 24 hours
Advair, Breo, Symbicort, Zenhale, Oxeze, Serevent, Onbrez (LABA) 48 hours
Montelukast/Singulair (LTRA) 24 hours
Theophylline/Uniphyl 48 hours
Antihistamines: Reactine (cetirizine), Allergra (fexofenadine), Claritin (loratadine), Aerius (desloratadine), Benedryl (diphenhydramine), Atarax (hydroxyzine) 72 hours
Spiriva/tiotropium, Incruse, Seebri, Tudorza (LAMA) 7 days
Alvesco, Pulmicort, Flovent, Arnuity, Asmanex, Qvar (ICS) Not routinely withheld but discuss with your doctor if you are on these medications.
Foods Do not take on:
Caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) Day of study

Exercise-induced asthma test (EIA)

60 minutes in length
An exercise-induced asthma test is a non-invasive test to assist in the diagnosis of asthma. You will perform a series of breathing tests (spirometry) through a mouthpiece connected to electronic equipment both before and after exercising on a treadmill.

Preparation:

  • Avoid strenuous exercise for at least four hours prior to the test.
  • Please dress for exercise.
  • Wear comfortable clothing (shorts) and running shoes.
  • Avoid wearing dresses, slippers, high heels or sandals.
  • Please have a light meal before the test.
  • If you are using any of the medications in the chart below, please avoid using them for the period indicated or as advised by your respiratory specialist. If you must use the medication within the period before the test, please contact your doctor’s office as your test may need to be rescheduled.
Medication Do not take before the test for:
Ventolin/salbutamol, Bricanyl (SABA) 8 hours
Atrovent/ipratropium, Combivent (SAMA) 24 hours
Advair, Breo, Symbicort, Zenhale, Oxeze, Serevent, Onbrez (LABA) 48 hours
Montelukast/Singulair (LTRA) 24 hours
Theophylline/Uniphyl 48 hours
Antihistamines: Reactine (cetirizine), Allergra (fexofenadine), Claritin (loratadine), Aerius (desloratadine), Benedryl (diphenhydramine), Atarax (hydroxyzine) 72 hours
Spiriva/tiotropium, Incruse, Seebri, Tudorza (LAMA) 7 days
Alvesco, Pulmicort, Flovent, Arnuity, Asmanex, Qvar (ICS) Not routinely withheld but discuss with your doctor if you are on these medications.
Foods Do not take on:
Caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) Day of study

Exercise oximetry

30 minutes in length
An exercise oximetry test is a test of exercise capacity and oxygen levels. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill. Your pulse and oxygen saturation will be measured while you exercise.

Preparation:

  • Please take your medications and inhalers as usual on the day of the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
  • Avoid wearing nail polish as it interferes with oxygen measurement.

Cardiopulmonary exercise test

60 minutes in length
A cardiopulmonary exercise test is a test of exercise capacity, oxygen exchange and response to exercise from your heart and breathing. You will be asked to ride a stationary bicycle while breathing into a mouthpiece attached to electronic equipment. Many parameters of your heart and lung function will be measured during exercise including your ECG, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and the amount of oxygen consumed and carbon dioxide produced by your body.

Preparation:

  • Please take your medications and inhalers as usual on the day of the test.
  • Please dress for exercise and wear comfortable clothing and running shoes.
  • Avoid wearing dresses, slippers, high heels or sandals.
  • Avoid wearing nail polish as it interferes with oxygen measurement.
  • Please have a light meal before the test.

Arterial blood gases

15 minutes in length
An arterial blood gas measures levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your arteries. A small blood sample (1.5 mL) will be taken from your wrist.

Preparation:

  • No preparation is required. If you are on oxygen, it may be removed for the test. If you are on a blood thinner medication (Coumadin/warfarin, Eliquis, Xarelto, Pradaxa) please let the technologist know.

Six-minute walk test

15 minutes in length
A six-minute walk test is a test of exercise capacity and oxygen levels. You will be asked to walk at a comfortable pace for six minutes. Your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen saturation will be measured.

Preparation:

  • Please take your medications and inhalers as usual on the day of the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
  • If you use a cane or walker please bring it to your test.
  • Avoid wearing nail polish as it interferes with oxygen measurement.

What to bring to your appointment:

  • Your inhalers
  • If you don’t speak English – a friend or family member to act as an interpreter in your language
  • If you’re scheduled for a walk or exercise test – comfortable footwear and clothingWhen to arrive

Please proceed to Cardio-Respiratory reception on the 1st floor of the East Wing (Room 132). To register, bring your health card (OHIP card). Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment. You will wait in the waiting room until one of the technologists calls you in for your appointment.

How long will your appointment be?
Appointments usually take 30 to 60 minutes depending on what tests you have been ordered. We do our best to stay on time but sometimes appointments can be delayed by unforeseen circumstances. Once your test is complete the results are sent to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.

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