Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In medicine, pulmonology is the specialty that deals with diseases of the lungs and the respiratory tract. It is called chest medicine and respiratory medicine in some countries and areas. Pulmonology is generally considered a branch of internal medicine, although it is closely related to intensive care medicine when dealing with patients requiring mechanical ventilation. Surgery of the respiratory tract is generally performed by specialists in cardiothoracic surgery (or thoracic surgery). Chest medicine is not a specialty in itself but is an inclusive term which pertains to the treatment of diseases of the chest and contains the fields of pulmonology, thoracic surgery, and intensive care medicine.
In medicine, 50% of all diagnoses can be made by a thorough medical history, and lung diseases are no different. The pulmonologist will conduct a general review and focus on:
- hereditary diseases affecting the lungs (cystic fibrosis, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency)
- exposure to toxins (tobacco smoke, asbestos, exhaust fumes , coal mining fumes)
- exposure to infectious agents (certain types of birds, malt processing)
- an autoimmune diathesis that might predispose to certain conditions (pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension)
Physical diagnostics are as important as in the other fields of medicine.
- Inspection of the hands for signs of cyanosis or clubbing, chest wall, and respiratory rate.
- Palpation of the cervical lymph nodes, trachea and chest wall movement.
- Percussion of the lung fields for dullness or hyperresonance.
- Auscultation (with a stethoscope) of the lung fields for diminished or unusual breath sounds.
As many heart diseases can give pulmonary signs, a thorough cardiac investigation is usually included.
Other tools include: -
- Laboratory investigation of blood (blood tests). Sometimes arterial blood gas measurements are also required.
- Spirometry (the determination of lung volumes in time by breathing into a dedicated machine; response to bronchodilatators and diffusion of carbon monoxide)
- Bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), biopsy and epithelial brushing
- Chest X-rays
- CT scanning (MRI scanning is rarely used)
- Scintigraphy and other methods of nuclear medicine
- Positron emission tomography (especially in lung cancer)
Diseases managed by the pulmonologist
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: -
- Cystic fibrosis (adults)
- Lung cancer diagnosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Pulmonary sequestration
- Sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome
Pulmonologists are involved in both clinical and basic research of the respiratory system, ranging from the anatomy of the bronchial epithelium to the most effective treatment of pulmonary hypertension (a disease notoriously resistant to therapy).
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details