Chest/Respiratory Medicine or Pulmonology is a branch of Internal Medicine. It is a specialty that deals with diseases of the lungs and the respiratory tract. Respiratory medicine is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of the lung diseases.
Physicians specializing in this area are called Respiratory Physicians, or Pulmonogists. Respiratory Physicians are specially trained in the diagnosis and management of many diseases and conditions of the respiratory (breathing) system, i.e. the nose, throat (pharynx), larynx, trachea, the lungs and diaphragm. Common diseases include pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma
, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
), lung cancer
, occupational lung disease, pulmonary hypertension
, pulmonary tuberculosis
(acute respiratory distress syndrome), cystic fibrosis
, interstitial lung disease
, and SARS
(severe acute respiratory syndrome). Respiratory Physicians are also involved in both the clinical and basic research of the respiratory system.
Among the investigative procedures used in Respiratory Medicine are X-rays (CT tomography, bronchography), endoscopy (tracheobronchoscopy and pleuroscopy), lung function testing (eg. Spirometry, laboratory studies of sputum and bronchial rinsing fluid, and aspiration and needle biopsy of the bronchi, lungs, and lymph nodes.
Interventional Pulmonology is a relatively new field within the respiratory medicine that deals with the use of invasive procedures such as bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, transbronchial biopsy and pleuroscopy to treat several respiratory diseases. Interventional Pulmonology is now increasingly recognized as a specific medical specialty.