The chest X-ray is one of the most common diagnostic tools used by physicians to determine the origin of illness. When patients receive an abnormal chest X-ray, the next step is to determine what may be causing the abnormality.

According to USA pulmonologist Dr. Kane Schaphorst, the first step after receiving an abnormal result is to talk with your primary care physician. Based on this conversation and the complexity of the X-ray, you may be referred to a pulmonary specialist for additional testing to get an accurate diagnosis.

Dr. Schaphorst, who is an associate professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine, is one of the few pulmonologists in our region who routinely performs a new, sophisticated, and highly targeted diagnostic procedure called endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS). This new procedure is a bronchoscopic technique that uses high-frequency sound wave emissions to visualize structures within and next to the airway wall. 

 “When patients receive an abnormal X-ray from their primary physician, sometimes it’s nothing serious or it could be something that can be treated simply,” Dr. Schaphorst said. “In some situations or in the setting of particular risk factors, endobronchial ultrasound provides healthcare providers with a minimally invasive way to obtain information to help make better and faster treatment decisions for patients.

“Many times, EBUS enables physicians to obtain diagnostic information that previously could only be obtained through surgical procedures,” he added. “When a more detailed examination of chest X-ray abnormalities is warranted, EBUS therefore provides us better information with fewer associated risks and discomfort to the patient.”

The endobronchial ultrasound is used as a diagnostic evaluation, providing the physician with more information to plan the next steps in treatment. This is especially important in conditions such as lung cancer where the proper staging is key to establishing the most appropriate treatment plan for patients.

Prognosis and initial management of cancer is determined by the disease stage. The endobronchial ultrasound can be used to make sure staging is accurate and the patient receives the best chance for optimal outcomes.

To make an appointment with any USA physician, call (251) 434-3711.

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