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UCLA Health excellence in respiratory care
At UCLA Health, our respiratory therapists deliver comprehensive breathing care to people at every stage of life. We offer advanced evaluation, treatment and prevention of breathing problems. Our specialists ensure you have the best possible respiratory care, typically during critical illness, heart disease or pulmonary (lung) disease.
Highlights of our services include:
World-renowned expertise: We rank among the top centers in the nation for pulmonology (treatment of respiratory conditions) and lung surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report. You can trust our team to provide exceptional respiratory care.
Accessible care: We have specialized respiratory therapists in all areas of patient care. Our teams work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Pediatric ICU and all adult ICUs. Respiratory care is also part of transplant programs and outpatient clinics.
Advanced pulmonary function tests: We have one of the largest pulmonary function (how well your lungs work) labs in Southern California. Our certified specialists provide a wide array of pulmonary function tests using state-of-the-art equipment.
Comprehensive lung care: UCLA Health’s Interventional Pulmonology Program is among the few programs in the country to offer comprehensive lung services. Our respiratory therapists assist with complete evaluation and treatment of pulmonary diseases, from common to complex.
What is respiratory care?
Respiratory (breathing) care tends to the health of your cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) function. Your heart and lungs are closely connected. They work together to deliver oxygen to all parts of your body.
You’ll receive respiratory care from licensed and trained professionals called respiratory therapists. Respiratory therapists work as part of your health care team to provide cardiopulmonary and critical care services. They specialize in diagnosing, treating and preventing heart and lung problems.
Diagnosing pulmonary function
We help you find out how well your lungs and airways work using a variety of diagnostic tests. Our respiratory therapists identify:
- If you have any respiratory problems or lung disease
- How severe your disease is and whether it responds to treatments
- If certain surgeries may put your lungs in harm’s way
- Your risk for future lung problems given your environment or job
Pulmonary function tests
We check your lung function and diagnose lung diseases with pulmonary function tests. We do these tests both in critical care hospital settings and at our outpatient pulmonary function lab.
Our respiratory therapists offer a wide array of tests, such as:
- Spirometry test (how much air you can inhale and exhale)
- Lung volume test (how much air is in your lungs)
- Diffusion capacity test (how oxygen enters your bloodstream)
- Exercise testing (how your cardiopulmonary function changes with activity)
- Overnight oximetry (amount of oxygen in your blood) studies
Blood gas tests
At UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, we offer arterial blood gas tests at our Blood Gas Lab. Arterial blood gas tests tell us more about how your lungs work. They check the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood and your blood’s acidity level (pH balance).
Our highly trained respiratory therapists assist your doctor in bronchoscopy. During a bronchoscopy, your doctor uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera to look at your lungs and airways. The procedure helps our team identify and also treat respiratory conditions.
Conditions respiratory therapists treat
Respiratory therapists work to make your cardiopulmonary function as good as possible. We provide world-class care for people of all ages, helping to diagnose and treat:
- Critical and life-threatening illnesses, such as blocked airways, chest trauma or heart failure
- Diseases that affect the lungs and airways, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis
- Heart conditions, which frequently develop with lung problems
Respiratory treatments we offer
Our experienced team works to ensure your successful treatment and recovery. We address your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Depending on your condition, we may provide:
- Breathing medications, such as drugs that widen the airways (bronchodilators)
- Lung expansion therapy, such as using positive pressure devices, to improve your lung capacity
- Specialized gas administration, such as oxygen, nitric oxide or helium delivery
- Mechanical ventilation (machine that helps you breathe) using a mask
We may also use additional therapies, such as:
- Speech exercises
- Massage therapy
- Urban Zen Integrative Therapy, which uses alternative healing techniques such as Reiki (energy healing) and essential oil therapy
Critical care respiratory therapy
You’ll find advanced respiratory care throughout UCLA Health’s intensive care units (ICUs). Specialized respiratory therapists in each unit work in close collaboration with your doctor. We help guide your treatment plan and make sure all members of your care team are on the same page.
For serious respiratory problems, we may recommend procedures that help you breathe. We use advanced airway management techniques, which place devices or tubes in your airways to create a clear pathway to the lungs. We also use mechanical ventilation using an endotracheal (through nose or mouth to windpipe) or tracheostomy tube (through neck to windpipe).
We provide complete care for your heart, lung and airways in our:
- Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
- Coronary Care ICU
- Medical ICU
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
- Neuroscience/Trauma ICU
- Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
- Transplant Surgical ICU
Interventional Pulmonology Program
Specialists at our Interventional Pulmonology Program offer a full range of minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat respiratory problems. We commonly see people who have received worrisome diagnostic test results. Our respiratory therapists work with skilled doctors to do advanced testing, including bronchoscopies and biopsies.
We typically perform interventional treatments in an outpatient setting. Our minimally invasive procedures allow for shorter recovery times than traditional (open) surgery. We specialize in:
Airway stents: We use stents to widen and support your airway passages. They help treat blockages, airway weaknesses and fistulas (abnormal connections between passages).
Bronchial thermoplasty: This treatment uses thermal energy to prevent asthma attacks.
Bronchoscopic brachytherapy: A form of radiation therapy, brachytherapy uses precise radiation exposure to treat tumors in the airways.
Heat and cold therapies: Heat therapies (such as laser) and cold therapies (such as cryospray) treat narrow airways or tumors in the airways.
Tunneled pleural (lung lining) catheters: We place catheters (tubes) in your chest to drain fluid buildup around the lungs.
Meet our team
Our team of respiratory specialists provides comprehensive care to all of our patients. We work side by side with your doctor to evaluate, treat and monitor your breathing and heart health.