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Tenet Health Central Coast providing pulmonary testing using highly accurate plethysmography 

Stephen Szabo and Ellisha Tully demonstrating plethysmography


–The only complete pulmonary testing in San Luis Obispo County is available at Twin Cities Community Hospital and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. Tenet Health Central Coast recently announced the availability of the most accurate pulmonary function testing in San Luis Obispo County.

Plethysmography measures changes in volume in different parts of the body that are attached to a machine called a plethysmograph. The process can help doctors calculate the volume of air lungs can hold.

One constant during the COVID-19 pandemic is that those with underlying health issues are the most vulnerable for adverse outcomes should they come in contact with the virus. People with pulmonary conditions – such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lung cancer – are also particularly at risk because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, which makes this test so important as part of managing their conditions.

Many high-risk people with lung or pulmonary conditions have not been able to access outpatient pulmonary function testing (PFT) due to the COVID-19 restrictions and any closure of independent pulmonary practices could be a cause for concern among doctors who need to refer patients for testing.

“Complete Pulmonary Function Testing is an important and critical component of diagnosis and management of respiratory conditions, as well as for determining disability in work-related lung disease,” said Stephen Szabo, RCP, Director of Cardiopulmonary and Respiratory Services for Tenet Health Central Coast. “The test is simple and provides a wealth of information to help doctors prescribe the best course of action and therapy.”

Although common office-setting tests use spirometry to assess how well lungs work by measuring how much air is inhaled and exhaled as a component in diagnosing asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions that affect breathing – it does not measure the total amount of air in the lungs at maximal inspiration. No matter how new the equipment, spirometry alone does not measure the amount of air left in the lungs after maximal expiration, or the volume of the lungs.

“Other methodologies can be used for Lung Volume measurements, however, as is noted by many experts – including the Mayo Clinic – other methods may underestimate the severity of lung disease in some individuals,” said Szabo. “Plethysmography is the gold standard.”

That is why the plethysmography testing available at Tenet Health Central Coast is so important for patients whose spirometry results suggest that there is a restriction or a restrictive disorder. These restrictive disorders include lung disease, neuromuscular weakness (when the nerves that control the body do not exchange information with muscles in a normal way), or chest wall limitations, as can happen with obesity.

Fortunately, patients who have had to delay tests due to COVID-19 closures, or are worried about their lung health, can receive complete Pulmonary Function Testing that includes Plethysmography testing at Tenet Health Central Coast. These tests are available as part of outpatient services at both the Twin Cities Community Hospital campus in Templeton and the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center campus in San Luis Obispo.

Physicians with patients that can benefit from a complete PFT are encouraged to contact Tenet Health Central Coast to set up an appointment the location most convenient to the patient. For more information regarding Cardiopulmonary / Respiratory Services, contact Stephen Szabo, RCP, Director of Cardiopulmonary / Respiratory Services for Tenet Health Central Coast, at

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