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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital’s Pulmonary Laboratory Offers New Non-Invasive Test for Children Suffering From Asthma

Asthma attacks often triggered during spring allergy season; May 1 is World Asthma Day

Pulmonologists at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have begun using advanced pediatric technology to help diagnose and treat young children suffering from asthma. This technology — exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) testing — is especially crucial now, as spring allergy season can lead to severe attacks for many young asthmatics.

ENO assessments have become the most advanced, reliable and child-friendly way of measuring lung inflammation in children with asthma, according to Daniel J. Weiner, MD, director of the Pulmonology Laboratory at Children’s.

“A major benefit of eNO is that we are able to conduct the test repeatedly because it is non-invasive,” Dr. Weiner said. “In fact, the computerized graphics make many children feel that it’s a game rather than a pulmonary function test.”

The eNO machine is similar to a computer, with a small tower and monitor. The child keeps the balloon icon steady on the monitor, controlling its movement by breathing normally into the machine. The test gives a numeric reading of eNO levels that corresponds to degrees of inflammation. If inflammation levels have increased, the pulmonologist can decide on a course of action to better control the patient’s asthma, including changing levels of medications or the medications themselves.

“This allows us to test on a regular basis, which makes it easier to monitor progress and change treatment plans to obtain optimum results,” Dr. Weiner said. “We get an accurate read-out that enables us to see if a child has increased lung inflammation or if an asthmatic child’s medicine is working. It gives us much more information than was previously available.”

ENO assessments give an objective measurement of lung inflammation and are a practical alternative to current invasive and semi-invasive methods, including bronchoscopy, which uses a tube to examine the main airways of the lungs, and sputum induction. In sputum induction, patients inhale aerosols of concentrated salt-water solution that make them cough up sputum to be tested. Instead, in routine clinical visits, the severity of asthma is typically based on symptoms and lung function, which may give an incomplete assessment of severity according to Dr. Weiner.

May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), and May 1 is recognized as World Asthma Day.

“We need to be able to accurately measure asthma severity especially with allergy season descending upon us. With eNO, we can do that better than ever,” said Jay K. Kolls, MD, chief of Children’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology. “Allergies can set off a severe asthma attack, which can lead to missed school, a visit to the emergency room or worse.”

More than 5 percent of all children suffer from asthma, according to the AAAAI. Nationwide, more than 70 percent of the 20 million people with asthma also suffer from allergies.

Learn more about Children’s Pulmonology Laboratory.
Learn more about Children’s Asthma Center.

Contacts:

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016, Marc.Lukasiak@chp.edu
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016, Melanie.Finnigan@chp.edu

Last Update
February 21, 2013
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Last Update
February 21, 2013
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