Lung Health & Disease

Lung Health & Disease Articles

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Lung

Squamous cell carcinoma of the lung is a type of lung cancer. It occurs when abnormal lung cells multiply out of control and form a tumor. Eventually, tumor cells can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body including the In general, there are two categories of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The cancer cells in each type look different under the microscope. They are also treated differently. The prognosis for non-small cell lung cancer tends to be better than for small cell lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancers are more likely to be contained in one area, making treatment more likely to be successful. Squamous cell carcinoma is one type of non-small cell lung cancer. The others are (Locked) More »

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of disorders that damage the lungs. These disorders make breathing increasingly difficult over time. The most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both are chronic illnesses that impair airflow in the lungs. Most cases of COPD are related to cigarette smoking. (Locked) More »

Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy is an examination of the larger airways (trachea and bronchi) using an instrument called a bronchoscope. A bronchoscope is a type of endoscope — a flexible instrument that sees inside the body using fiberoptic technology (very fine filaments that can bend and carry light). In bronchoscopy, the doctor can look directly inside the larger breathing passages for signs of tumors and can take samples of lung fluids or tissue if necessary. During bronchoscopy, a flexible bronchoscope is inserted through the mouth or nose, then slowly passed down into the trachea and bronchi. To limit discomfort, the mouth or nose is numbed with a local anesthetic beforehand and a light sedative may also be injected into the veins. The bronchoscopy procedure itself usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes, not counting preparation time. (Locked) More »

Heart-Lung Transplant

A heart-lung transplant is surgery for someone with life-threatening heart and breathing problems. Surgeons remove the damaged heart and lungs and replace them with a healthy heart and lungs from a person who has died. The person receiving the new heart and lungs (the recipient) is someone with a high chance of dying within one to two years without a transplant. The person providing the healthy heart and lungs (the donor) is someone who is brain dead, but still on life-support machinery. Currently, surgeons perform very few heart-lung transplants each year in the United States. This number is small because there is a shortage of suitable donors and the requirements for heart-lung donation are stricter than those for heart donation alone. Only a small percent of people who are suitable heart donors also fit the criteria for donating both heart and lungs. (Locked) More »

Mediastinoscopy

Mediastinoscopy is a surgery that allows doctors to view the middle of the chest cavity and to do minor surgery through very small incisions. It allows surgeons or pulmonary doctors to remove lymph nodes from between the lungs and to test them for cancer or infection. It is also useful for examining the outside surface of the large tubes of the airways or for evaluating tumors or masses in the middle chest. Discuss the specific procedures planned during your mediastinoscopy ahead of time with your doctor. This procedure is done by either a surgeon or a trained pulmonary specialist. You will need to sign a consent form giving your surgeon permission to perform this test. If you are taking insulin, discuss this with your doctor before the test. If you take aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamin E, or other medicines that affect blood clotting, talk with your doctor. It may be necessary to stop or adjust the dose of these medicines before your test. It is likely that you will be able to go home the same day as the surgery, but you will need to arrange for someone else to drive you home. This is because you will have received medicines that can leave you drowsy for some hours after the procedure. (Locked) More »

Sputum Evaluation (and Sputum Induction)

If your doctor thinks you have pneumonia, he or she might examine a sample of your sputum, the phlegm that you cough out of your lungs, to try to determine what type of bacteria or other infectious agent might be the cause. Drink plenty of fluids the night before the test; this may help to produce a sample. You need to cough up a sample of sputum. To be useful for testing, the stuff you cough up has to be from deep within the lungs. If your cough is too shallow or dry, the doctor might ask you to breathe in a saltwater mist through a tube or mask. This mist makes you cough deeply that helps produce an excellent phlegm sample. (Locked) More »

Ventilation-Perfusion Scan or V-Q Scan

The ventilation-perfusion scan is a nuclear scan so named because it studies both airflow (ventilation) and blood flow (perfusion) in the lungs. The initials V-Q are used in mathematical equations that calculate airflow and blood flow. The test is used primarily to help diagnose a blood clot in the lungs, called a pulmonary embolus. Today, ventilation-perfusion scans are rarely performed because a chest CT scan is a much more accurate diagnostic test for detecting a pulmonary embolus. About one hour before the test, a technician places an IV in your arm. A slightly radioactive version of the mineral technetium mixed with liquid protein is injected through the IV to identify areas of the lung that have reduced blood flow. (Locked) More »

Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is a type of surgery that enables doctors to view the inside of the chest cavity after making only very small incisions. The doctor can examine the outside surface of the lung and the inner surface of the chest wall through a camera attached to the scope. Abnormal appearing areas on the lung surface can be biopsied. VATS also provides relatively easy access to taking a biopsy of the lung.  This may be needed to diagnose the cause of abnormalities on a chest x-ray or to determine the specific infectious agent responsible for pneumonia that is not getting better on antibiotics. Discuss the specific procedures planned during your chest surgery ahead of time with your doctor. VATS is done by either a surgeon or a trained pulmonary specialist. You will need to sign a consent form giving the surgeon permission to perform this test. Talk to your doctor about whether you will stay in the hospital for any time after the procedure, so that you can plan for this. (Locked) More »