Spirometry Technique Video

Performing Spirometry in Primary Care

Spirometry is the recommended test for the diagnosis and monitoring of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This short clip shows how to perform spirometry on a patient in primary care. It covers:

  • Introducing and explaining the test to the patient
  • Coaching the patient through the test
  • Obtaining the best possible patient effort

Checklist of steps

Open circuit method

  1. Sit upright in a chair with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the ground
  2. Breathe in completely and rapidly
  3. Pause for less than 1 second
  4. Place mouthpiece in mouth and close lips to form a good seal
  5. Blast air out as fast and as far as possible until completely empty, or until unable to blow any longer
  6. Breathe in completely and rapidly again
  7. Remove mouthpiece

Closed circuit method

  1. Sit upright in a chair with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the ground
  2. Place mouthpiece in mouth and close lips to form a good seal
  3. Breathe normally for 2-3 breaths
  4. Breathe in completely and rapidly
  5. Pause for less than 1 second
  6. Blast air out as fast and as far as possible until completely empty, or until unable to blow any longer
  7. Remove mouthpiece

Remember

  • Vigorous verbal encouragement and coaching is essential for the patient to continue to exhale to the end of the manoeuvre (e.g. "keep going")
  • At least 3 technically acceptable blows must be obtained (usually not more than 8 blows are required)
  • Check test repeatability and perform more blows as necessary
  • Acceptability and repeatability criteria must be met to ensure accurate results

Spirometry training

All health professionals conducting spirometry should be appropriately trained. The National Asthma Council Australia offers free spirometry training workshops for GPs and practice nurses across Australia.

For training workshop details, go to: Spirometry Training

More information

This clip provides a brief overview of correct technique for performing spirometry in primary care. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to performing and interpreting spirometry.

For more detailed information, go to: Spirometry Resources

Acknowledgements

This resource was developed in consultation with Ms Judi Wicking, asthma & respiratory educator, who appears in the film clip. Thanks also to Ms Joan Raven for participating in the clip.

Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Novartis Australia.

The National Asthma Council Australia retained editorial control.

Last reviewed October 2013