Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET) is the best test of your functional ability. It lets us test cardiac, pulmonary, metabolic, and ventilatory systems in unison

Athletes use Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing. We now use it for patients who are having major surgery.   

We may find you to be at a considerable risk using Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing. We can then send you for a prehabilitation program (see below). 

Patient information regarding Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

Get a referral for Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

CPET can supply useful information for many types of major surgery. 

You may be likely to receive help from CPET. If so, the surgical or anaesthetic team members will usually discuss this with you. Only then will they organise the test. 

You can find out further information or see if CPET can help you (or one of your patients if you're a GP). Contact the people listed below or ask about CPET in one of the pre surgery clinics. 

Preparing for the test 

Please follow these instructions if you are coming in for a CPET: 

  • From 24-hours before the test, avoid alcohol
  • On the day of the test, avoid consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, cola)
  • From at least two hours before the test, do not eat any food
  • Wear appropriate/comfortable clothing for the test. This should include trainers/walking shoes, trousers or shorts. You should also wear a top that won’t cause you to get too warm during the test

Coming into Peter Mac 

Our address is: 

Specialist Clinics, Clinic 2D 
305 Grattan Street 
Melbourne VIC 3000 

Allow two or three hours when parking with us. 

Undertaking the test 

The test itself takes 60-90 minutes (about one and a half hours). This includes: 

  • Lung function testing, exercising for 12-15 minutes (up to a quarter of an hour). This involves exercising on a bike against increasing resistance (workload). This allows: 
    • Gas exchange analysis to measure anaerobic threshold (AT)  
    • Peak oxygen consumption (pVO2) 
    • 12-lead ECG monitoring for myocardial ischaemia. 
  • We then use the stress from this test as a surrogate for the stress experienced during surgery. This provides us with a valuable risk stratification tool for major surgery 
  • We will plan a prehabilitation program around your functional ability. This will ensure you’re fit for surgery

The risks of CPET are the same as those involved in moderate to intense exercise. Medical cover is available for every test as a precautionary measure. 


CPET lets us understand your functional ability. This lets us understand your associated risk from major surgery. We will then ensure you receive the right care during your time at the hospital. This care focuses on reducing the risk of major surgery.   

We may find your body is deconditioning and you are at increased surgical risk. We can help you through a tailored prehabilitation program, using:   

  • Exercise prescription 
  • Nutritional optimisation 
  • Optimisation of blood haemoglobin levels to carry oxygen in the blood 
  • Referral to other specialists when necessary.  These specialists can include cardiologists and respiratory physicians

The surgery 

Prehabilitation before surgery helps improve your functional ability (fitness). This way, you can better cope with the stress of major surgery.  

We will continue watching you in high dependency areas after the operation though. We may also offer alternative therapy to surgery if the surgical risk is too high. 

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing service times 

Our service times are Thursday afternoons from 1:30pm to 4:30pm - only three slots are available. 

Contact us about Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

Specialist Clinics 

  • Phone: (03) 8559 5555 

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