European Respiratory Society Monograph, Vol. 31. 2005
Although diagnosis always begins with a careful history and physical examination and a physician is obligated to consider more than the diseased organ, testing of lung function has become standard practice to confirm the diagnosis, evaluate the severity of respiratory impairment, assess the therapy response and follow-up patients with various cardio-respiratory disorders. Ventilation, diffusion, blood flow and control of breathing are the major components of respiration and one or more of these functional components can be affected by any disorder. Frequently, no single pulmonary function test yields all the information in an individual patient and multiple tests have to be combined to allow proper evaluation of the patient. The pulmonary function laboratory is therefore very important in pulmonary medicine to provide accurate and timely results of lung function tests. The purpose of this issue of the European Respiratory Monograph is to provide up-todate information on the application and interpretation of different pulmonary function tests in the work-up of patients suffering from cardio-respiratory diseases.