Pulmonology is a specialty that addresses diseases of the lungs and bronchial tubes, which often involves evaluation of the upper respiratory tract (nose, pharynx and throat) as well as the heart.
Why would I need to see a Pulmonologist?
Pulmonologists are specially trained in diseases and conditions of the chest.
Not everyone who suffers from an acute respiratory condition or chronic respiratory diseases needs a Pulmonologist. Many of these conditions can be managed by your primary care doctor. Pulmonologists’ skills are usually needed for patients with complex pulmonary problems, such as Emphysema, Tuberculosis, Asthma, complicated infections of the chest, the pulmonary complications of AIDS, injury, and complications of respiratory diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
What should I expect at a Pulmonology exam?
A Pulmonologist will most likely perform a spirometry or pulmonary function test to determine if you have a chronic disease. You can find out more about this in the PFT Lab section. They also often perform specialized procedures to obtain samples of the lining of the chest wall or of the lung itself. For example, they use flexible fiber optics to see inside the air passages and extract sample pieces for study. They also perform angiographic visualization -- injecting dye into the pulmonary arteries to view the blood vessels in the lungs.
You may be referred for Pulmonary rehabilitation depending on your condition. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a service designed for those who experience lung problems such as:
What are pulmonary function tests?
Pulmonary function tests - often referred to as “spirometry” are a group of tests that measure how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases such as oxygen from the atmosphere into the body's circulation.
Why would I need a pulmonary function test?
Pulmonary function tests are done to:
They also can be done to:
How are the tests performed?
Spirometry measures airflow. By measuring how much air you exhale, and how quickly, spirometry can evaluate a broad range of lung diseases. In a spirometry test, while you are sitting, you breathe into a mouthpiece that is connected to an instrument called a spirometer. The spirometer records the amount and the rate of air that you breathe in and out over a period of time. For some of the test measurements, you can breathe normally and quietly. Other tests require forced inhalation or exhalation after a deep breath. Sometimes you will be asked to inhale the substance or a medicine to see how it changes your test results.
Lung volume measurement can be done in two ways:
To measure diffusion capacity, you breathe a harmless gas, called a tracer gas, for a very short time, often for only one breath. The concentration of the gas in the air you breathe out is measured. The difference in the amount of gas inhaled and exhaled measures how effectively gas travels from the lungs into the blood. This test allows the doctor to estimate how well the lungs move oxygen from the air into the bloodstream.
How will the test feel?
Since the test involves some forced breathing and rapid breathing, you may have some temporary shortness of breath or lightheadedness. You breathe through a tight-fitting mouthpiece, and you'll have nose clips.
Do I need a referral for these tests?
Most insurances require a referral from your primary care physician to have a pulmonary function test done. Please call our office if you have questions regarding referrals and appointments at 719-227-7800.
Reference: US National Library of Medicine