One of the frequent reasons patients see their primary care physicians is for the symptom of dyspnea. Among the objective tests to quantify this symptom is the pulmonary function test, which includes several different studies: spirometry with flow-volume loop, lung volumes, and diffusing capacity of lung for carbon monoxide. The results may indicate both respiratory and nonrespiratory disorders, including helping in the diagnosis of cardiac or neuromuscular diseases. This review, intended for the generalist, describes common findings of pulmonary function tests and provides a road map for interpretation.
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