Learn About the Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) & Other Breathing Tests From Calgary’s Experts

How does MRG test for respiratory disorders?

If you or your doctor suspect any breathing related issues, a visit to an accredited MRG facility for pulmonary function testing (PFT) may be required. We complete testing for both adult and pediatric patients (aged 6 years and older) in Calgary.

Below is an overview of the breathing tests we provide along with a description of what you can expect.


What is a Pulmonary Function Test?

Generally, the first step in evaluating lung health is to determine the cause of shortness of breath. Unlike a chest x-ray, which only provides a static picture of the lungs, pulmonary function tests (PFTs) provide deeper insight.

A PFT involves a multitude of tests, including Spirometry, Arterial Blood Gases and Lung Volumes. Together, these tests aid in the diagnosis of lung disease, and are considered the gold standard for COPD diagnosis.

They can be used to assess current lung function, disease severity, progression and response to treatment. Testing can also help determine if a patient has adequate respiratory function to withstand a proposed surgery.


Spirometry is a test used to measure lung function. It generally takes about 10 minutes to complete, and simply involves blowing into mouthpiece. It is considered the most reliable test for identifying COPD and asthma.

You will be asked to put on a nose clip and a mouthpiece attached to a monitor by a tube. After taking the deepest breath possible, you will be asked to blow as long and as hard as you can. You will likely repeat this three or four times. The test will measure the amount of air you can exhale, along with the rate. In some cases, you will be asked to repeat this test after using a puffer medication to see if there is a difference.

Prior to your test:

  • Do not smoke for one hour
  • Do not drink alcohol within four hours
  • Do not eat a large meal within two hours
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Avoid physical exertion 30 minutes prior
  • The doctor may ask you to abstain from using puffer medication prior to testing

Arterial Blood Gas

An arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, as well as acidity (pH) to find out how well the lungs are functioning. This test can determine the lungs’ ability to move oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood.

An ABG test involves taking blood from an artery (unlike most blood tests, which draw a sample from a vein). The reason is that the blood in our arteries still contains oxygen, while veins transport blood that has been depleted of oxygen.

Important things to remember before your test:

Booking Your Pulmonary Function Test in Calgary

Visit your family doctor. Request a referral to Maple Respiratory Group for pulmonary function testing. If you need a Calgary Pulmonary Function Test, we are the trusted experts with over 12 years of serving Calgarians.

  • MRG staff will promptly call you to book an appointment at one of our convenient Calgary PFT locations. Instructions will be sent prior to testing.
  • On arrival, our staff will guide you through the breathing test process.
  • Our Respirologist will review your test results and make a recommendation for treatment as needed. This will be provided to your family doctor who will book you in to discuss the findings and establish your action plan.

Download our Referral Form

Download our referral form and bring this to your family doctor.