Bronchoprovacation testing

What is bronchoprovocation testing?

Bronchoprovocation testing is a type of medical test most often used in the diagnosis of asthma, but can also be used to measure the response of the airways and lungs to a range of 'challenges' such as specific medications, exercise, food additives or other antigens (toxins or other substances which provoke an immune response).

A bronchoprovocation test is considered a 'rule in' type test, that is a positive result indicates the presence of a reaction or the presence of asthma. as very mild asthma or well controlled asthma may show a negative result.

This test is often recommended when other lung function tests return normal results.

What is involved in the test?

Bronchoprovocation testing may involve different ways of 'challenging' the respiratory system to provoke a response, including exercise and inhaling substances such as methacholine, histamine or saline solution.

The test is generally performed by inhaling stepwise a progressively greater concentration of mannitol (a type of sugar) with a dehydration agent, which invokes a response in the airways similar to that when doing exercise. For someone with asthma the airways will constrict and this will confirm the diagnosis of asthma. No reaction will not confirm that asthma is not present (see above).

Spirometric testing is used after each dose to monitor any constriction in the airways.

How do I prepare for a bronchoprovocation test?

As with many lung function tests, you should check which medications you can and cannot use prior to the test. Some of these medications may need to be stopped anything up to 72 hours before the test (please consult with us for the full list of these medications).

You will need to avoid smoking or strenuous exercise in the hour before the test and not consume any food or drink containing stimulants, including coffee, tea, chocolate, sports/energy drinks or any soft drinks containing caffeine during the four hour period before the test.