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Respiratory Medicine
Respiratory Medicine

Diagnostic Services

The Pulmonary Function Laboratory

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has a fully computerized laboratory, where the Pulmonary Function Technologists can perform a wide range of pulmonary function tests used to aid in the diagnosis and assessment of lung disease in children. The standard pulmonary function tests performed are spirometry, lung volume measurements, gas diffusion, respiratory muscle strength and airway hyper-reactivity (methacholine challenge).

Most children aged five and up can perform spirometery and older child can usually do all of the tests.

The Pulmonary Function Lab is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Use of the lab is available to ALL physicians in the community. 

Tests are usually booked within a week. 

All requests for testing must be made by a physician or surgeon. 

 All tests are reviewed and interpreted by a staff respirologist. A copy of the Pulmonary Function Report is sent to the referring physician/surgeon.

The Cardio-Pulmonary Exercise Laboratory

Cardiac and respiratory performance can be evaluated under exercise conditions. The exercise testing is useful to assess cardiac or respiratory complaints that have not been explained through other standard diagnostic testing.

Tests are performed on children between the ages of seven and 18 who are able to pedal a stationary bicycle for about 10 minutes. The child must be at least 120 cm (four feet) tall.

 All requests for testing must be made by a physician or surgeon. 

How to make a referral

  • All patients require a referral to visit our clinic.
  • If you are a health-care professional, log in to eCHN to submit your referral. From your eCHN account, you will be seamlessly connected to SickKids e-referral platform, EpicCare Link.
  • Learn more about our referral process.
  • For urgent referrals only (same day referrals), contact eCHN’s Helpdesk directly 416-813-7998 or 1-877-252-9900, or by email at helpdesk@echn.ca.
    On weekends and after 6 p.m. on weekdays, please contact the Fellow on call via SickKids Locating at 416-813-1500.

Infant Pulmonary Function Research Laboratory


Most chronic respiratory diseases have their origins in early infancy and childhood.  This is especially true for asthma where the majority of children experience their first symptoms before the age of three.

Objective measurements of pulmonary function have historically been reserved for children of ages approximately 5 years or older.  New methodology using standardized technique allows for measurement of lung and airway function in infants.  Reported values include lung volumes and flows.  

Infant Pulmonary Function Testing (Infant PFT) is a new service provided by the Division of Respiratory Medicine. The information gained from this test can be used to:  determine the nature of a respiratory condition, quantify the magnitude of a disorder, evaluate the effectiveness of medical interventions such as bronchodilator response, study the growth and development of the lungs, assist in a prognosis, and examine the natural course of lung disease.  

The populations that have benefited from Infant PFT are those with Cystic Fibrosis, Asthma, and Chronic Lung Disease although other respiratory conditions are being investigated.  Age range is approximately from 2 months to 3 years old taking into consideration weight and length limitations.  

Infant PFT is performed during sleep usually with the aide of light sedation in a strictly standardized manner under consistent conditions.  During the test the child breaths spontaneously and sleeps in a special bed wearing a face mask and a special vest.  The face mask is connected to tubes which allow them to inhale fresh air and exhale into the room.  A clear box is placed around the child for a short time which determines the size of the lungs.  The special vest around the chest has a balloon inside that helps get air out of the lungs.  

The infant PFT laboratory is state of the art research laboratory working on developing novel testing to aid in the diagnosis and management of lung disease.  We currently collaborate with international partners to offer multiple breath washout technology for our infants and children; we also offer measure of airway inflammation such as exhaled nitric oxide testing.

For clinical testing please refer to respiratory medicine for a consult:

For further information about research studies or infant PFT’s please contact:

Susan Balkovec
Respiratory Therapist Division of Respiratory Medicine
Phone: (416) 813-2232
Fax: (416) 813-6246

Dr. Padmaja Subbarao
Director, Infant Pulmonary Function Testing laboratory
Clinician Scientist
Division of Respiratory Medicine
Phone: 416-813-2196
Fax: 416-813-6246

The Sleep Laboratory

Quality sleep is essential for a child’s growth and development.  The Sleep Laboratory is used to assess children with a variety of sleep-related disorders.  It is a safe, easy and painless way of monitoring the child’s breathing and behavioural patterns during sleep. The Sleep Lab at SickKids is one of four paediatric sleep laboratories in Canada. Children of any age can be studied, from infancy to 18 years of age. All studies are performed overnight and a parent is required to stay with the child for the entire study.

What is a sleep study (polysomnogram)? 

It is a procedure which records a child’s sleeping patterns. Some of the recordings that are taken during a sleep study are:

 Breathing - Airflow through the mouth and nose and chest movements
 Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide levels
 Heart rate and rhythm
 Eye movements
 Leg movements
 Brain wave activity

Additional recordings when needed; esophageal pH monitoring and full 10-20 seizure montage.
All requests for testing must be made by a physician or surgeon. The referring physician/surgeon must send referral via ARMs, our online Ambulatory Referral Management system.  

For more information call 416-813-6338.