UCLA Campus    |   UCLA Health    |   School of Medicine Translate:
UCLA Health It Begins With U

Vital Signs


Vital Signs

Fall 2009

Expanded Pediatric Pulmonary Services Ease Burden for Patients and Families


“With these new and expanded programs and services...we can significantly lengthen and improve the lives of our patients.”

Peds PulmonaryMillions of children in the U.S. have asthma and other respiratory ailments, ranging from chronic cough and valley fever to cystic fibrosis (CF), chronic lung disease and interstitial lung disease. Less than two decades ago, children with the severest forms of many of these conditions faced poor prognoses and shortened lives. Today, innovative medications, technologies and pediatric pulmonary specialists have extended the life spans and improved outcomes for many of these children.

But only a few hospitals in Southern California have the comprehensive resources to help pediatric patients with severe respiratory illnesses. Under the clinical leadership of pediatric pulmonolgist Pornchai Tirakitsoontorn, M.D., UCLA is expanding its capabilities to provide a full range of consultation, diagnostic and treatment services for these children. The program’s multidisciplinary team of three pediatric pulmonologists and nursing, dietary, respiratory therapy and social work support staff offers the “diagnostic and therapeutic abilities that enable us to identify abnormalities and better help children to improve their longterm outcomes,” says Dr. Tirakitsoontorn, clinical director of the UCLA Division of Pediatric Pulmonology.

In addition, UCLA is establishing a Technology Dependence Center and Home Ventilation Program, which will offer specialized clinics monthly to children dependent on oxygen, home ventilators, tracheostomy tubes or other devices, as well as a multidisciplinary CF clinic for children and adults. The CF program is slated to launch by the end of the year, and Dr. Tirakitsoontorn also plans to initiate the process to become a CF Foundation-accredited care center.

Identifying children with certain respiratory ailments, such as cystic fibrosis, early is key to successful treatment, says pediatric pulmonolgist Monal Sonecha, M.D., a member of the team. “Once we understand the challenges these children face, we can design therapeutic strategies specifically for their needs and begin to educate parents about how to provide ongoing care for their children,” she says.

“Many patients, particularly those with milder cases of asthma, can be effectively managed by their pediatricians using antiinflammatory drugs and bronchodilator inhalers,” Dr. Tirakitsoontorn says. “Other patients with pediatric lung diseases, however, suffer from multiple other conditions and require a lifetime of specialized medical care. But with these new and expanded programs and services, I believe we can significantly lengthen and improve the lives of our patients.”

Add a comment

Please note that we are unable to respond to medical questions through the comments feature below. For information about health care, or if you need help in choosing a UCLA physician, please contact UCLA Physician Referral Service (PRS) at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) and ask to speak with a referral nurse. Thank you!

comments powered by Disqus