Cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET)


You will be invited to attend a cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) as part of your preparation for surgery. In some cases you may be invited to have a CPET before the decision is made regarding surgery as the results will help the surgeon and anaesthetist provide you with the right information to help the decision making process.

What is CPET?

A cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) is performed to assess current levels of fitness. A CPET measures how the heart, lungs and muscles respond to exercise. This information is used to work out how you may respond to the stress of surgery or other treatments. 

What happens at a CPET appointment?

An appointment lasts for around an hour. We will ask you some questions about your relevant medical history, current physical activity levels and how you have been feeling recently. Then we will ask you to perform a breathing test to assess your lung function. Prior to your CPET we will stick stickers called electrodes to your chest to monitor your heart rate and rhythm. We will also fit you with a facemask to measure your breathing rate and levels of certain gases. We will take your blood pressure during the test.

The test is performed on a stationary exercise bike. We will encourage you to cycle to the best of your ability for as long as you can while we assess your body’s responses to exercise. The test will last approximately 10 to 15 minutes during which the intensity of cycling will be gradually increased until you are too tired to continue. When you have finished the CPET, we will monitor your recovery.

What will happen to my results?

The results of your CPET will be sent to the doctor who requested the test, most likely a hospital consultant. You will be able to discuss the results at your next appropriate hospital appointment.

Contact us

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact us.

  • Email
  • Call 07825 423 05 or 023 8120 5679
  • Write to: CPET, perioperative medicine team, room CE125, anaesthetics department, E level, Centre Block, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD
  • CPET lab location: Purple zone, surgical day unit (SDU), F level, Centre Block, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, SO16 6YD