Laboratory Tests

Spirometry and full Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are the simplest tests used for asthma diagnosis and management over time. Both the Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1) and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) are key determinants that doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists – and patients should follow, ideally with the tests done in the same lab over time.

Airway Challenge Tests like a methacholine challenge and Cardio-Pulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) are useful to “bring out asthma in patients where baseline testing does not show this easily. Not all PFT labs have access to airway challenge tests, especially if you live in a more rural area of Canada (including Northern BC, Northern Alberta, Northern Saskatchewan).

Induced Sputum for Quantitative Cell counts (SCCs) are a newer test that has been available since the mid-1990s in Canada for assessing the presence, type, and degree of airway inflammation in asthma and other conditions. It is done in PFT labs across the country, but is not accessible in some centers.

Report Card for Induced Sputum for Quantitative Cell Counts (SCCs) – The province of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have Ministry of Health funded access to induced sputum for SCCs. The only site in Alberta that has access to not-for-profit SCCs is Calgary (Edmonton lost its region-based funding in 2013). None of the Atlantic provinces have access to SCCs. None of the territories have access to SCCs.