Your Lung Transplant Evaluation

Your local doctor or pulmonologist has referred you to a lung transplant hospital program. You will first speak with a cardiopulmonary transplant coordinator who will answer questions you may have regarding transplantation.

Lung Transplant Evaluation

After receiving your medical records and checking with your insurance company to be sure you have coverage, your coordinator will present your information at the transplant team meeting. If you meet the criteria and the transplant team feels transplantation will be of benefit to you, your coordinator will schedule a visit with a doctor from the transplant team.

The purpose of this first visit is to discuss lung transplantation as an option for treating your lung disease. It is very important to bring along a support person(s). if you and your doctor decided a lung transplant would benefit you, an evaluation would be scheduled. This will occur at the transplant hospital or at a local center near your home, depending on your insurance coverage.

Lung Transplant Tests

Below you will find a list of the tests and consults that you may need before being approved medically for a lung transplant. You may need only some these tests or you may need all of them. Just remember they help the transplant team understand whether your body is in good physical condition to undergo a lung transplant. They also help the transplant team to compare any changes that may occur after the transplant.

Bone Desity Scan – This test looks at the condition of your bones. A substance is injected into your vein and a special X-ray is taken of your body. You will need to lie flat on your back on a table. The test takes about an hour. Do not take calcium supplements for 24 hours before the test. Do not wear metal zippers as it interferes with the test.

Laboratory Tests – Several blood tests are needed to detect prior viral exposures, current blood counts, and organ function. Urine tests will also be needed. These blood tests include HIV, Hepatitis B and C.

Chest X-Ray – This test is an X-ray that shows a picture of the organs in your chest. It may show if you have an infection in the lungs. You will also have an X-ray done lying down. This is used for the size comparison with a donor lung.

Exhocardiogram (ECHO) – This test uses sound waves to make a picture of your heart. A jelly-like substance is spread on your chest. Then a small pen-like object is moved across your chest to make a picture on a screen. The test takes about 30 minutes and will tell the transplant team how well your heart is working.

Electrocardiogram (EKG) – This test shows how well different part of your heart conduct electrical currents. Large bands are put around your wrists and your ankles. Sticky pads are put on your chest. You will need to lie still on a table for a couple of minutes.

Lung Perfusion Scan (VQ Scan) – This test takes a picture of your lungs that shows how blood is traveling through your lungs. A radioactive medicine is injected through a small intravenous catheter and then a scanner takes pictures. It will determine which lung is working better. This information helps the surgeon plan the surgery.

Sinus Films – This test is an X-ray of your sinuses in your forehead, nose, and cheeks. It is done to make sure you do not have a sinus infection.

Cardiac Catheterization – This test evaluates the arteries in your heart. During this test, an intravenous (IV) catheter will be placed into an artery in your groin or arm. You will be asked to lay flat for several hours after the test to prevent any bleeding. Depending on the time of day and your outcome, you may be required to stay overnight in the hospital.

CT Scan – This is a computerized X-ray exam that takes pictures of various body structures. It can take pictures of liver, lungs, kidneys, brain, sinuses, spine, pelvis, joints, etc. This test can detect abnormalities such as cancers, infections, etc. as well as the extent of your lung disease.

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) – These are breathing tests to find our how your lungs are working. These tests can be tiring. A small needle may be placed into an artery in your arm or wrist so that we can check the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood. The needle poke may sting a little at first, but it lasts for only a few seconds.

Six-minute Walk – This is done to check your oxygen levels and heart rate while you are walking. During this test, you will be able to rest at any time. It is important for the transplant team to make sure that you are getting enough oxygen with rest and activity.

Skin Testing – Skin test will be placed on your arms to test for tuberculosis, mumps, and Candida sp.

You will most likely have interviews with various members of the transplant team. You may find that these interviews seem very repetitve, but each person who interviews you has a different perspective on your disease.

The entire Lung Transplant Team will review the results of your tests and interview. Once the team has evaluated your case, you will be notified as to whether or not you will be considered for a transplant. Some transplant hospitals can take from two weeks to several months to respond.

(Reference: University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. http://www.uwhealth.com)

Image courtesy of Baker.edu.

After her husband received a double-lung (bilateral) transplant in 2004, Shannon founded the Angel Cove Organ Donation Awareness Shop, which provides awareness t-shirts and gifts products for transplant recipients, living organ donors and donor families - giving 100% of the profits to help heart and lung transplant recipients with medical costs. Shannon lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her wonderful husband and two chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

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