Diagnosing Emphysema with Medical Imaging

Emphysema is just one of several conditions under the umbrella term “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” COPD is a condition that causes the lungs to have difficulty taking in air. COPD includes conditions like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. Emphysema is the deadliest of the conditions and we will explore the symptoms and the diagnosis process. In Louisiana alone, almost 7% of the population is affected by COPD.

What does emphysema look like? To begin, the interior of the lungs are filled with small air sacs called alveoli. These air sacs expand with oxygen when you breathe in and allow oxygen to get into the bloodstream. Emphysema is a condition that causes these air sacs to weaken and ultimately rupture. When they rupture, there is less area for oxygen to be taken in and since emphysema is a chronic condition, these alveolus will continue to weaken and rupture until the lungs are not able to expand and contract on their own.

Emphysema is most notably a result of cigarette or tobacco smoking. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke can total over 7,000 and they are extremely toxic to the entirety of the body, but the lungs take most of damage. Upon inhalation, the hot smoke and toxic chemicals damage the lung tissue and with an addictive habit like cigarettes, the damage happens multiple times a day for years. With every puff, more lung tissue dies and once it is dead, there is no replacing it. That is why long-term smokers account for 80% of all emphysema diagnosis in the United States.

If you are a long term smoker or a former smoker and are over the age of 50, your chances for developing emphysema are much higher. If you suspect that you might be developing emphysema, you might be wondering what are the symptoms. The signs of COPD or emphysema can be confused with other conditions because things like shortness of breath or difficulty catching breath could be misconstrued as part of the aging process or the result of lifestyle choices. You see, as the air sacs are slowly destroyed, air becomes trapped in the lungs and is difficult to expel as well as obtain. Furthermore, if you are experiencing a tightness in the chest that does not seem to pass, these could be the beginning warning signs of COPD and possibly emphysema.

Diagnosing emphysema requires a few different tests. To begin, the doctor will use a physical examination to test things like your vitals and blood pressure. Following a physical, doctors will usually perform a combination of pulmonary function tests to examine the strength and performance of the lungs. Pulmonary function tests include breathing into tubes that can test how much air you are expelling, how fast it is being expelled, and how much air remains after exhalation.

If the results of the pulmonary function test prove conclusive toward symptoms of COPD, doctors will use medical imaging to confirm the diagnosis. A chest X-ray is often performed to see if the lungs have become enlarged because of excess air or if there are structural changes in the lungs. However, diagnosing emphysema cannot be done with a chest x-ray alone. Chest CT scans are also used to diagnose COPD because they can show pockets of air in the lungs which are symptomatic of damage from COPD. All of these procedures are completely painless and require no invasive surgery and yet still provide accurate details and diagnosis.

At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, we assist doctors and hospitals in the diagnosis, treatment and aftercare of sick or injured patients. Our facility offers state of the art medical technology along with decades of professional experience. We have dealt with the concerning statistic of lung cancer and lung-related ailments in Louisiana for many years and our equipment and experience has afforded to be the only American College of Radiology certified Lung Cancer Screening center in the greater New Orleans area. We are committed to keeping Louisiana healthy and making our services fast, affordable and comfortable for our patients.

If you have more questions about medical imaging pertaining to the diagnosis and treatment of emphysema, please take a look at our X-ray Service Page and our CT Service Page for more information about these procedures and what to expect before yours. If you would like to schedule an appointment, you may do so using our Request an Appointment feature or you can call Doctors Imaging’s office in Metairie at 504-833-8111 Monday through Friday to speak to a representative.

When Preventative Medical Imaging is Necessary

A large population of people are admittedly afraid to go to the doctor. It could be the fear of finding a problem, the worry about the possibility of pain, or sometimes they’re just not wanting to be bothered. But doctors are there to heal their patients and if they have to give you bad news or a painful procedure, it is because they seek to help you. One aspect of visiting your physician that is not painful is having medical imaging performed. Medical imaging tests are given to patients in order to give doctors better tools for determining health conditions and creating treatment plans. However, if you do not go to the doctor very often or avoid your annual check-up, you may not be aware of your need for an imaging procedure. If any of the following conditions apply to you, you should speak to your doctor about having an imaging procedure scheduled in order to keep you as healthy and informed as possible.

If you have a high-risk lifestyle

There are a number of factors that contribute to your overall health. If you are living a lifestyle that is not conducive to healthy practices, you may be putting yourself at unnecessary risk. Factors such as smoking, excessive drinking, drug use, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of exercise are some of the worst habits to promote health problems. Even if you have stopped performing these activities, if they were once a habit, having medical imaging is still beneficial to determine any residual damages.

If you have a family history

If you know that you have a family history of conditions like heart disease, cancer or degenerative illness, having medical imaging procedures performed regularly is definitely recommended. For many that know their family histories, having these tests performed is a frightening activity because of the possible results. While it is fine to be afraid, finding out the truth as early as possible is the best way to treat any condition that may arise.

If you are over 50 years of age

It is an unfortunate fact that as you age, health conditions tend to become more prominent than when one is younger. Do not be confused and think that once you become fifty years of age, you begin degenerating. Fifty is just a benchmark age that doctors begin recommending certain lifestyle changes and medical tests to be aware of any possible health changes. So if you have reached this age, having regular imaging procedures performed is the easiest way to stay on top of your health and to avoid any surprises.

These are just a few of the conditions that physicians would recommend having regular imaging procedures performed if they apply to you. If none of these conditions apply to your life but you still want to determine your health conditions, speak to your radiologist about your options and the best tests for you.

Looking for appropriate medical imaging tests in Metairie, Louisiana? At Doctors Imaging, our radiologists are concerned with patient care. You c­­an schedule your imaging appointments online, or by calling 504-883-8111.

Radiologic Imaging

Radiologic Imaging Proved To Decrease Healthcare Costs

Radiologic imaging for diagnosis has been proven to save lives and decrease healthcare costs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), ultrasound (US), and computed tomography (CT) are essential to the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of lesions, cancer, and many other serious diseases. However, over the last few decades, the United States has experienced increased costs in diagnostic radiology, thus leading many to question the importance of imagery testing. Recently, researchers in the field have sought to understand how the general public values information provided by imagery tests. The results from these studies show that despite the costs, the American public agrees that imaging tests are essential for diagnosis.
Early this May, Siemens conducted a study which showed that 92 percent of Americans felt that they need to have up-to-date information regarding their own health was as important as actually having access to a physician. Results also showed that 78 percent of respondents would consent to a diagnostic procedure even if the results determined that no treatment or cure could be offered. 97 percent agreed that in undergoing imaging tests to rule out certain diagnoses, money would be saved in the long run by avoiding costly treatments.
At Doctors Imaging, we understand that when it comes to your health, you expect the best. We believe in delivering high-quality services, and we also value our patients’ economic concerns. Therefore, we are committed to offering the most rapid results at the lowest cost.