New developments in lung health in response to coronavirus

A new state of the art scanner is one of a number of measures the respiratory team have taken to continue to care for patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The service at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have made a number of improvements over the last few weeks.

These include a new ultrasound machine in lung health at the University Hospital of North Tees which will allow the team to expand the variety of procedures they can perform in the pleural clinic.

Respiratory consultants Kevin Conroy and Ben Prudon say the upgrades will help shorten the time to getting a diagnosis for some patients who are worried about serious conditions like lung cancer.

Dr Conroy said: “In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we haven’t been doing some of our other procedures such as local anaesthetic thoracoscopy, which is a crucial lung cancer diagnostic test.

“This new ultrasound machine has helped bridge that gap, as well as carry out some tests which we previously couldn’t do.

“This has improved our  diagnostic capabilities and is helping patients get the answers they need more quickly.”

The service is now also using pleural vents – this is a small device inserted into the front of the chest where air is trapped between the lung and the chest wall (a primary spontaneous pneumothorax).

Some patients being treated in emergency care can have the vent fitted there and go home soon after – avoiding the need for a hospital stay.

Dr Conroy continued: “Usually a patient would have to be admitted to hospital to have a chest drain fitted and generally have to stay for around two to three days.

“Now, a patient can have the device placed by the emergency care team, go home and then return within 24 hours for an outpatient appointment in lung health.

“This is fantastic for patients who can now recover at home and will not need to stay in hospital.”

Dr Prudon added: “This upgraded equipment is fantastic news for the service and for our patients.

“It allows us far greater capability so that we can do more for our patients. It also means we can provide better training for our trainees and team.

“Better training and better quality ultimately means improved patient treatment.”

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