Pulmonology Overview

What is pulmonology?

Pulmonology is a field of medicine that focuses specifically on diagnosing and treating disorders of the respiratory system.

What conditions do pulmonologists treat?

Conditions pulmonologists commonly treat include:

What procedures do pulmonologists use?

Pulmonologists can use and interpret exams and tests to help determine a lung-related diagnosis. These may include the following:

  • CT scan to get detailed images of the bones, muscles, fat organs, and blood vessels in your chest.
  • chest fluoroscopy, an X-ray test to see how well your lungs are functioning.
  • chest ultrasound to examine the organs and other chest structures.
  • pleural biopsy to remove a small tissue sample from the pleura, which is the membrane that surrounds your lungs.
  • pulmonary function test, a breathing test to see how well your lungs are working.
  • pulse oximetry test to determine the oxygen saturation level in your blood.
  • thoracentesis to remove and sample fluid from around your lungs.
  • chest tube to remove air or fluid from around your lungs.
  • bronchoscopy to examine your airway and determine if you have any issues.

When should you see a pulmonologist?

If you’re having any unusual symptoms, you should meet with your primary care doctor. They will perform a medical exam and assess your overall condition. They may refer you to a pulmonologist if you:

  • have difficulty breathing
  • have a persistent cough
  • regularly cough up blood or mucus
  • smoke
  • have unexplained weight loss
  • have trouble exercising due to breathing problems