Respiratory | Bay of Plenty District Health Board | Hauora a Toi | BOPDHB


Respiratory medicine is the service that diagnoses, treats and provides continued care for patients with diseases that affect the lungs and breathing.

Your GP or other primary care practitioner may refer you to us for respiratory function tests or to the Sleep Disorder Breathing Clinic.

Common symptoms or signs of lung disease include: shortness of breath, wheezing, long-term cough, phlegm, coughing up blood, and having chest pains.

Once a referral has been received it is graded at Tauranga Hospital by the Respiratory specialists and patients will be seen in clinics at either Tauranga or Whakatāne Hospitals. Urgent cases can be seen within hours, but other cases may have to wait a longer period. Routine cases are often returned to the GP, unseen.

Requests for an assessment of the need for home oxygen are made to the Respiratory service. Referrals can also be made for specialist asthma and pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.

Common respiratory procedures

This is an examination of the upper and lower airways (breathing tubes), with a flexible fibre optic tube that is passed via the nose into the passages of the lungs.

The process may involve removal of secretions, and taking of samples from the breathing tubes.  This examination is cone for symptoms such as coughing up of blood, persistent cough, abnormal chest x-ray, shortness of breath or suspected Tuberculosis (TB).

Computerized tomography (CT) scans of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular x-ray exams.  A chest CT can show various lung disorders.

This is a diagnostic procedure used in addition to a CT scan where a needle is inserted into the chest into a mass that needs further investigation.

Cells are sucked up into the needle for further examination.  This is normally carried out while taking pictures with the CT scanner to guide the specialist as to where to place the needle.  Local anaesthetic is used so that the test is not overly painful.

This test measures lung function, specifically the measurement of the amount and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled.

Generally you will be asked to take the deepest breath you can and then exhale into the sensor as hard as possible for as long as possible. During the test, soft nose clips may be used to prevent air escaping through the nose.

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body. For this test, you will go to a sleep lab that is set up for overnight stays.

Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder which occurs while people sleep. This is the mostly due to blocking off of the breathing passages around the mouth and nose.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) sufferers stop breathing at certain times during sleep - up to hundreds of times a night. While not breathing the body is deprived of oxygen. This causes a number of problems, particularly excessive sleepiness during the day which can result, for example, in poor work and school performances and falling asleep at the wheel of a car. There may be problems with blood pressure and heart disease long term.

Requests for an assessment of the need for home oxygen are made to this service.

Referrals can also be made for specialist asthma and pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.