North Coast hospital introduces technology to improve patient management
The diagnosis and management of a range of lung conditions and diseases have been given a boost on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal with the introduction of the latest body plethysmography technology.
Netcare Alberlito Hospital in Ballito has announced that the practice of Dr Leon Naidoo, a resident specialist physician and pulmonologist, has acquired the latest model of Jaeger’s body plethysmography technology.
“We are tremendously excited to now have this latest body plethysmography equipment, which is colloquially known as the ‘body box’, which will enhance our pulmonology service to patients in the region,” Dr Naidoo observes.
Dr Naidoo affirms that, while body plethysmography technology has been around for some 20 years, this particular model, which incorporates more advanced software, is the first of its kind to be imported to South Africa.
“Body plethysmography works on the principle of Boyle’s law, which states that the pressure of a given mass of an ideal gas is inversely proportional to its volume at a constant temperature. Although the science underpinning the technology is complex, the important thing to note is that body plethysmography is a powerful diagnostic tool that improves our ability to accurately measure absolute lung volumes and capacity.
“By providing us with more data on the condition of a patient’s lungs, the equipment enables us to better tailor treatment to meet the exact treatment needs of each individual with lung problems,” says Dr Naidoo.
“It is most useful in the diagnosis of any medical condition impacting the lungs including chronic asthma, interstitial lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, asthma, allergic reactions of the lungs, swelling of the lung tissue as a result of cardiac failure, and many others,” he explains.
“We are able to use the information provided by the technology to ascertain whether or not patients have certain lung conditions or diseases, how advanced these may be, and what future course such a condition is likely to take. This data enables us to refine our treatment programmes and management of each individual patient with lung disease.”
Dr Naidoo explains that spirometry has traditionally been the standard method for measuring relative lung volumes in most patients. He says that one of the shortcomings of spirometry, however, is that it does not provide important information such as the total amount of air the lungs can hold (total lung capacity).
“Body plethysmography, on the other hand, measures both lung volume and capacity, and the volume of air still remaining in the lungs after exhalation [residual lung volume], in a single, relatively easily performed test.
“It thereby enables lung specialists to determine the overall ability of the lung to transport gas into and out of the blood, and accurately establishes the sensitivity, or hyper-responsiveness, of the airways,” points out Dr Naidoo.
“The patient just has to sit inside the airtight body plethysmography box, and inhale and exhale into a tube. A shutter drops across the breathing tube and the patient must breathe against the resistance created by this.”
Craig Murphy, the director of Netcare’s coastal region, congratulated Dr Naidoo and Netcare Alberlito Hospital on introducing the body plethysmography technology at the facility.
“This new service will further improve the diagnostic abilities of the pulmonology unit at the hospital and assist in further improving the outcomes of our patients within the region,” he concluded.