Health Library
Pulmonary Function Test: Methacholine Challenge Test

What Is a Methacholine Challenge Test?

The Division of Pulmonary Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center performs methacholine challenge testing.

Methacholine challenge testing is used by your caregiver to determine if your child may have asthma.

Description of the Test

Methacholine is a drug which may cause the airways to narrow. Your child will breathe in very low doses of methacholine by a mist aerosol and then have spirometry measured. Doses of inhaled methacholine will be gradually increased with spirometry recorded after each dose. The testing will be completed if your child either shows signs by spirometry that the airways are narrowing, or reaches the highest dose used in the test without airway narrowing.

Length of Test

The test takes up to two hours.  

Preparing Your Child for the Test

There is a list of medications that may decrease your child's response to the methacholine and should be avoided only if possible prior to testing.

Check with your child's physician before stopping any medication prior to this test, or call the PFT Laboratory at 513-636-8049.

Possible Side Effects of the Test

Thousands of methacholine challenge tests have been performed in Cincinnati Children's pulmonary function laboratory and elsewhere with no serious side effects.

Methacholine causes airway narrowing; however, all precautions are taken including continuous monitoring and administration of an inhaled bronchodilator to your child if any airway narrowing is observed.

Last Updated 08/2019