COPD Tests and Diagnosis (Part 1)

We hear about ABG, FEV and PFT. What is going on? What does it mean? I know my basic ABC’s but this is really off! I used to think that, and the abbreviations caused more confusion, once I became more familiar with them, it made sense. The weirdest abbreviation ever was sob, I’ve always known that it meant one thing, but now sob means shortness of breath. It is important to know what some of the abbreviations mean.

ABG - Arterial Blood Gas

This is where a tech draws blood from an artery in the wrist. With this test, it measures the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It determines how well your lungs are working. I’ve heard some say they would never have the procedure because it hurts so bad. It does hurt, but this test gives so much information and is very accurate.

Bronch – Bronchoscopy

This is a procedure, where the doctor can look directly at your airways in the lungs with a thin and lighted tube, which is called a bronchoscope. This scope is put in the mouth or nose. It is moved down the throat and trachea (windpipe), into the airways. The doctor can then see the larynx (voice box), trachea, large airways to the lungs (bronchi), and smaller branches of the bronchi (bronchioles). There is a rigid bronchoscope which is used to view larger airways and can be used to remove or control bleeding, foreign objects, diseased tissue or to perform other procedures, like stents. More often, a flexible bronchoscope is used. Often in the smaller airways, bronchioles. This bronchoscope can be used to suction secretions, to insert a breathing tube to give oxygen, or to do a biopsy or put medication in the lungs. I have had this procedure numerous times. Twice, they have done it and they scraped my lungs. It looks and sound scary, but it’s not. Seeing the instruments and the wait was the most difficult. They will possibly spray lidocaine into your nose or throat. I was given the “twilight” sleep medication so I was not aware of what was going on and was able to talk to the doctor about his findings. This test is a good thing!

CT Scan - Computerized Tomography Scan

This makes use of computer-processed combinations of many X-ray measurements. These are taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images of specific areas of a scanned object. This allows the user to see inside the object without cutting. Other terms are computed axial tomography and computer aided tomography. A person lays on the pillow on the bed part, then the person is slid into the machine. You are slid in as far as needed so that the part of your body is able to be scanned. I have no problems with claustrophobia, but some may be affected. This is a painless procedure and one that could and has lulled me to sleep.

Dx - Diagnosis

In the medical field, this determines what the disease is and helps to distinguish it from other possible medical conditions. This is so important, even if the results are not what we want to hear.

Part 2 will discuss Pulmonary Testing and more!

Have a BED (breathe easy day) and BEN (breathe easy night)

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