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Q: duties of physicians specializing in pulmonology (lungs) ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: duties of physicians specializing in pulmonology (lungs)
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: gremlin-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 02 May 2003 17:55 PDT
Expires: 01 Jun 2003 17:55 PDT
Question ID: 198667
What sorts of things do pulmonologists (lung doctors) do on the job,
day-to-day? Is surgery a big part of it?
Subject: Re: duties of physicians specializing in pulmonology (lungs)
Answered By: juggler-ga on 02 May 2003 18:29 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Gremlin,

In a nutshell, the day-to-day activities of a pulmonologist are the
diagnosis and treatment of patients with asthma, lung cancer, chest
infections, tuberculosis, emphysema, cystic fibrosis and other lung

Most pulmonologists do NOT perform surgery.


"What pulmonologists do?
Pulmonologists are specially trained in diseases and conditions of the
chest, such as pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, or
complicated chest infections...
Does a pulmonologist perform surgery?
Major surgical procedures are performed by a thoracic surgeon. Yet
pulmonologists 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."

"Pulmonologists are internists who further specialize in the diagnosis
and treatment of lung diseases.
Pulmonologists diagnose and treat lung diseases such as asthma,
emphysema, or pneumonia. Pulmonologists perform tests to check how
well a person is breathing, or they may use procedures, such as
bronchoscopy, to diagnose a breathing problem.
Most people are referred to a pulmonologist by their primary doctor."

"Pulmonology is a major specialization recognized by the medical
profession. Among other procedures, pulmonologists perform
bronchoscopies and thoracentesis, place critically-ill patients on
oxygen delivery systems, including ventilators and respirators, and
perform more routine procedures such as treating allergies, asthma and
infections affecting the lungs. "
source: usdoj.dov letter

"Pulmonology is classified as an internal medicine subspecialty.
Because pulmonologists encounter a variety of clinical problems, they
must have knowledge of internal medicine and other specialties in
order to obtain certification.
Some conditions that a pulmonologist will diagnose and treat include
asthma, chronic cough, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),
lung cancer, and sarcoidosis.
Pulmonologists may serve as consultants to other physicians as well as
provide long-term care to patients with chronic conditions."

Pulmonologists treat patients with lung disorders and diseases,
including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. Pulmonologists
often work in the field of occupational medicine, in intensive-care
units, and in respiratory-therapy departments. "


Here's a laundry list of the conditions that you would be diagnosing
and treating as part of your day-to-day activities as a pulmonologist:

"ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), asthma, bronchitis,
chronic cough, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), cystic
fibrosis, emphysema, hemoptysis, lung cancer, obstructive sleep apnea,
pleural effusion, sarcoidosis, solitary pulmonary nodule, and

search strategy: 
"pulmonologists perform"
"pulmonology is"
pulmonology, asthma, lung, emphysema, cystic fibrosis

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Request for Answer Clarification by gremlin-ga on 02 May 2003 19:16 PDT
I'd like some more information on what sorts of procedures
pulmonologists use in treating these lung diseases. Is it mainly a
matter of perscribing medication and/or referring them to a surgeon?
Or do they do more elaborate procedures?

Clarification of Answer by juggler-ga on 02 May 2003 20:19 PDT
Hi Gremlin,

Basically, the pulmonogolists perform tests and prescribe medications
and equipment (i.e., ventilators, oxygen, and other breathing
devices).  As a pulmonologist, though, your treatment of patients
would not necessarily be entirely "hands off," though.

I noticed quite a few references to pulmonogolists performing
endoscopy for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Endoscopy is
often classified as "interventional pulmonology." There is a book on
the subject from

"Pulmonologists test lung functions in many ways, endoscope the
bronchial airways if necessary, and prescribe and monitor mechanical
assistance to ventilation."

Therapeutic Bronchoscopy

Interventional Bronchoscopy

Basically, what you'd be doing with these procedures is using
minimally invasive technology to remove mucous and tissue from
diseased lungs.  More complicated procedures such as surgery would be
passed off to surgeons.

I hope this answers your question.
gremlin-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

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