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 respiratory specialists. Patients are seen in clinics at Tauranga Hospital or Whakatāne Hospital. Urgent cases can be seen within hours, but other cases may have to wait longer. 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 done 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 a mass in the chest that needs further investigation.
Cells are sucked into a needle to be examined. This is normally done while using pictures from the CT scanner to help the specialist see where to place the needle. Local anaesthetic is used so that the test is not too painful.
This test measures lung function - specifically 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 disorder which occurs while people sleep. This is the mostly due to blocking 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 problems such as being sleepy during the day, which can result in poor performance at work and school and falling asleep at the wheel of a car. Long-term, there may be problems with blood pressure and heart disease.
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.