Lung Health & Disease

Lung Health & Disease Articles

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 »

Lung Transplant

In lung transplant surgery, someone with life-threatening respiratory problems is given one or two healthy lungs taken from a person who has died. If one lung is transplanted, the procedure is called a single-lung transplant. If both lungs are transplanted, it is a bilateral or double-lung transplant. Lungs for transplantation usually come from young, healthy people who have had severe brain damage because of trauma or cardiac arrest (a stopped heart). Their lungs and other organs are maintained with life-support machinery. Under certain circumstances, two living people can donate small parts of their lungs to one person in desperate need of a transplant. Each person donates one lobe (section) of a lung. This rare use of living donors is done in some cases because of a great shortage of suitable lungs from donors who have died. Entire lungs are never transplanted from a healthy living donor because of the high risk of complications. Living donor lung transplants are very uncommon. (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 »

Pneumonectomy

A pneumonectomy is the surgical removal of a lung. Pneumonectomy is usually done as a treatment for cancer in carefully selected patients who have no evidence of cancer spread outside the lung and who are otherwise healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Compared to other treatments of lung cancer, pneumonectomy is considered high-risk surgery. Traditional pneumonectomy — Only the diseased lung is removed. (Locked) More »

Pulmonary Function Testing

Your doctor can get a great deal of information about your lungs and lung function by doing a series of tests called pulmonary function testing. These tests can tell your doctor what quantity of air you breathe with each breath, how efficiently you move air in and out of your lungs, and how well your lungs are delivering oxygen to your bloodstream. No preparation is necessary. This testing is done in a special laboratory. During the test, you are instructed to breathe in and out through a tube that is connected to various machines. (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 »