Spirometry Indications and Contraindications

Spirometry is mainly used to diagnose and follow up lung pathologies.

It is generally a safe test but few contraindications exist.


The main indications for a spirometry test are:

  • to show the presence or absence of lung dysfunctions
  • to assess severity of known lung disease
  • to assess change of lung function in function of time or in function of therapy
  • to assess the potential effect of occupational or environmental exposure
  • to assess the potential risk for surgical interventions that can effect lung function
  • to assess disability


Spirometry is generally a safe test. However, some contraindications exist:

  • hemoptysis of unknown cause
  • pneumothorax
  • unstable cardiovascular status
  • recent myocardial infarctation or pulmonary embolism
  • thoracic, abdominal or cerebral aneurism (risk of rupture because the increased intrathoracic pressure during forced expiration)
  • recent ocular surgery (eg. cataract)
  • nausea, vomiting
  • recent thoracic or abdominal surgery

Acute infection of airways or lungs is not a contraindication per se, but it is rarely useful to perform a lung function test in these cases, since the results will be affected by the acute infection.