Lung disease diagnosis and treatment in Southern California

At Riverside Community Hospital, our doctors offer a variety of treatment options for patients with pulmonary disease. We perform diagnostic and treatment procedures to identify lung and esophageal concerns and determine the extent of a disease.

Our team is committed to cutting down on time between diagnosis and treatment. We coordinate care so that once a patient is diagnosed, we can begin treatment as soon as possible. This is especially critical with our lung cancer patients, when early treatment can make a significant impact in positive patient outcomes.

Are you looking for a pulmonologist or thoracic surgeon? You can call our Consult-A-Nurse® team at (951) 788-3463 to learn more about scheduling an appointment.

Lung and esophageal conditions we treat

Our pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons perform a variety of procedures to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Achalasia—difficulty passing food from the esophagus to the stomach
  • Barrett's esophagus—damage to the esophagus, often found in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—lung disease related to difficulty breathing due to obstructed airflow from the lungs
  • Esophageal cancer—cancer of the organ connecting the throat to the stomach
  • Hyperhidrosis—excessive or abnormal sweating unrelated to exercise or environmental factors (can be caused by certain types of lung disease)
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung failure—when the lungs are unable to pump enough oxygen into the bloodstream
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)—when nerves or blood vessels between the collarbone and top rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed

Thoracic (chest) surgeries we offer

A thoracic procedure may be needed for a variety of reasons, including exploratory surgery, diagnostic testing and surgical treatment. Our thoracic specialists perform numerous surgeries within the chest cavity, including:

  • Complex thoracic lung surgery—procedures performed on the lungs or esophagus
  • Evaluation of lung masses—to determine the nature of lung masses and lesions
  • Mediastinal tumor surgery—to remove a tumor in the chest space that separates the lungs
  • Minimally invasive lung surgery—procedures involving the chest that use small incisions
  • Sternal reconstruction—repair of the sternum due to an infection sustained from opening and closing the chest cavity during surgery
  • Thoracic aneurysm repair—removes and replaces a damaged portion of the thoracic aorta
  • Thoracotomy—procedure to open the chest

Lung cancer screenings

With over 155,000 deaths per year, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths than breast, colorectal, melanoma, and prostate cancer combined. Lung cancer can be curable when found in its early stages, but it has been historically difficult to detect until now.

We offer noninvasive, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screenings for patients who may be at risk of lung cancer. The low dose CT screening is painless, only takes a few minutes, and exposes the patient to five times less radiation compared to a regular CT scan.

LDCT is a screening designed to catch cancer in its early stages. Those at high risk who are routinely screened are more likely to detect lung cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage.

After the exam, your report will be sent to your primary care provider and a result letter will be mailed to you. If necessary, you may be referred for pulmonary care. In that case, a lung nodule coordinator will schedule an appointment for you with a pulmonologist.

Who should get a lung screen?

Because a CT scan requires a physician's order, you should talk with your doctor if you are interested in having this screening. Your doctor will determine your eligibility for screening and refer you to our clinic if appropriate.

LDCT is recommended for:

  • People between 50 and 77 years old
  • People who have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history
    • Pack years calculation: (# of packs smoked per day) x (# of years smoking) = pack-year smoking history
  • People who are either still smoking or have quit smoking within the last 15 years and are asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms of lung cancer

Patients with symptoms of a lung condition at the time of the screening, such as a new cough or shortness of breath, are not eligible for LDCT screening.

Lung Nodule Program

Our hospital has a specialized program to support patients with lung nodules as they go through diagnosis and treatment, if needed. We are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our patients, which is why we prioritize prompt diagnoses and expedited care. Our goal is to detect cancerous lung nodules in their earliest stages, so we can diagnose lung cancer when it is most treatable.

If a lung nodule is found on an imaging exam performed for a separate health concern, our nurse navigator will contact your physician to discuss follow-up care. With guidance from a doctor, our nurse navigator will coordinate a plan of care as we work toward a diagnosis, provide clinical assistance and support the patient and their family.

The Lung Nodule Program at our hospital is supported by:

  • Medical oncologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Thoracic nurse navigator
  • Thoracic surgeons

Robotic-assisted lung nodule screening

Early-stage diagnosis can be difficult, but Riverside Community Hospital can help gather tissue samples for a faster diagnosis through a minimally invasive robotic-assisted lung nodule screening procedure.

Our robotic-assisted platform for minimally invasive biopsy in the lung enables physicians to obtain tissue samples from deep within the lung, addressing a challenging aspect of lung biopsy. It may also help patients avoid subsequent biopsies by enabling a diagnosis through the samples obtained.

The robotic-system features an ultra-thin and flexible catheter (tube) that allows navigation far into the peripheral lung and unprecedented stability enables the precision needed for biopsy compared to manual techniques.