University of Pennsylvania Health System

Lung Transplant Update | Penn Medicine

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Quick Guide to Understanding PFTs Results

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) provide information about how well the lungs are working and give the healthcare team many different measurements that help to determine what treatments will be most effective. By testing the lung function in different ways, different types of information can be gathered. Your healthcare team will explain your PFT results in detail, and, of course, they are available to answer any questions you may have.

For times when you’re looking over your PFT results on your own and need a little reminder to help decipher the alphabet soup created by the abbreviations, we’ve put together a quick list of the common measurements taken during pulmonary function tests. Take a look and keep this handy as a reference.
  • Tidal volume (VT): the amount of air inhaled or exhaled during normal breathing
  • Minute volume (MV): the total amount of air exhaled per minute
  • Vital capacity (VC): the total amount of air that can be exhaled after inhaling as much as you can
  • Functional residual capacity (FRC): the amount of air remaining in lungs after breathing out normally
  • Forced vital capacity (FVC): the amount of air exhaled forcefully and quickly after breathing in as much as you can
  • Forced expiratory volume (FEV1): the volume of air exhaled during the first second of the forced vital capacity (FVC) test
  • Forced expiratory flow (FEF): the average rate of flow during the middle half of the forced vital capacity (FVC) test
  • Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR): the maximum volume during forced exhalation

Friday, October 10, 2014

October Support Group Update

Katie Stratton, RD, LDN
Date: Monday, October 13, 2014
Time: 1 to 3 pm
Location: 21st Floor, Ballam Conference Room
Penn Tower, 399 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Topic: The Role of Nutrition Before and After Lung Transplant

The next lung transplant support group is on Monday, October 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. Unlike usual, it will take place in Penn Tower, on the 21st floor in the Ballam Conference Room -- not the 4th Floor Gates Conference.

Moreover, oxygen will no longer be provided at the lung transplant support groups. Please plan to make appropriate arrangements for your oxygen requirements.

The topic for this support group is "the role of nutrition before and after lung transplant." While good nutrition is an important issue for everyone, for lung transplant patients, it’s a critical step in all phases of transplant: preparing for transplant, recovering from the transplant surgery, and living a full and healthy life after lung transplant.

To help patients and caregivers understand more about how food choices impact lung transplant, we’ve invited lung transplant clinical dietitian, Katie Stratton, RD, LDN, to be our guest speaker.

We look forward to seeing you on October 13! If you’d like additional information about the session, please contact lung transplant social worker, Christopher Erickson, MSW, LCSW, at 215-662-4575 or

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fitness After Lung Transplant Surgery

By guest bloggers, Rodney Simcox, BSRT.Edu, RRT, manager of pulmonary rehabilitation, pulmonary diagnostic services, and Sarah R. Tokarczyk, PT DPT, acute care lead therapist and physical therapist, occupational and physical therapy

It’s no secret that regular exercise can boost energy, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, promote weight loss, and improve muscle tone, strength and endurance. But for lung transplant patients, exercise can be an even more important tool to strengthen the heart and lungs, as well as to decrease risk factors for heart, lung and vascular disease.

Set Small Goals First

The most important thing you can do is to set small, attainable goals. Routinely performing several exercises to challenge your muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility will help you meet your bigger fitness goals.

1. Stretch your limbs.

Stretching allows improved flexibility as well as additional blood flow to the muscle and is considered very important as a warm up prior to endurance exercise or training. It can also help to improve posture, which in turn can help increase ventilation of the lungs.

2. Exercise your heart.

Endurance exercise, or cardiovascular exercise, uses large muscle groups in your arms or legs and involves using these muscles continuously for a certain amount of time. These exercises may include biking and walking. Start with short distances and times, and work toward an increased length of time to 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Strengthen your muscles.

Strength exercises are performed with weights or resistance bands for maintaining and improving muscles in the arms, legs and trunk. A strength exercise is measurable by weight amount and number of times you perform the exercise, also called repetitions. Maybe you want to walk for 45 minutes every day, or keep up with your kids and grandchildren. Whatever your fitness goals are for 2011, you don’t need a fancy gym membership or expensive equipment to reach them.

Tips for Exercising Safely

It’s never too late to set goals for fitness after lung transplant surgery. Whether it's through a gym, pulmonary rehab or a home exercise program, you'll benefit from exercising after lung transplant surgery. Remember to always check with your physician before beginning any fitness program.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
  • The best time to exercise is two hours before or after eating. 
  • Do not exercise in extreme temperatures. 
  • Remember to “warm up” and “cool down” to avoid injury. 
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. 
  • Pace your breathing while exercising; you should be able to count to 15 out loud in one to two breaths. If you need to take additional breaths, you are working too hard. 
  • If you experience dizziness, lightheadedness, palpitations, or sudden weakness or discomfort in your chest, jaw, neck or arms, stop the exercise and seek medical attention. 
What are your fitness goals? What are you going to do to make your goal a reality?

If you're interested in enrolling in the pulmonary rehab program at Penn Medicine, please call Rodney Simcox at 215-662-6482. 
Rodney can also help you identify a rehab program in your community.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Autumn Has Arrived: Time for a Flu Vaccine

Flu season has officially begun with early cases of influenza already being reported in the area. The Penn Lung Transplant team reminds you and your loved ones to get your a flu shot.

Whether you have lung disease, are taking immunosuppression (anti-rejection) medications or live with someone who does, now is the time to get vaccinated. Vaccines administered between mid October and early December should protect you through early spring.

Transplant recipients are advised to take only the injectable “inactivated influenza vaccine.” The flu shot uses killed virus and is injected into the muscle. Because the virus is inactive, you can't get the flu from taking this inoculation. Please be aware that it may take a couple of weeks for the vaccine to “take hold” and defend you against infection. Nasally inhaled vaccines made from live, attenuated virus are not safe for people whose immune systems are compromised or weakened. This season's vaccine covers both influenza and H1N1, so only one injection is necessary.

The flu vaccine is available at many locations in the community including drug stores, doctors' offices and through community service groups. If you don't have access to a vaccination in your neighborhood, Penn Medicine can provide the injection for you. Simply call the Penn Lung Center at 215-662-3202 and speak with a patient service representative to schedule an appointment in the flu shot clinic. Flu shots are being administered weekly now through December.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus. Typically spread from person to person, the virus is carried in respiratory droplets created when coughing and sneezing. However, you can unwittingly expose yourself to the flu by simply touching a surface that has been contaminated by a droplet and then touching your mouth, nose or eye. As always, handwashing is the best defense against any infection. And of course, it's important to avoid people you know are sick.

If you do get sick, please call your lung transplant nurse practitioner immediately. He or she will help to determine if you have cold symptoms or flu symptoms. While both are respiratory illnesses, they're treated differently. And treatment options are affected by how long a patient has had symptoms.

Here is a chart that may help identify what type of illness you have:

Flu symptoms

  • Slow onset of illness (over a day) 
  • Fever over 100.5°F 
  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Dry cough 
  • Terrible headache 
  • Achy muscles 
  • Chills 

Cold symptoms

  • Slow onset of illness (over a day) 
  • Low or no fever 
  • Mild fatigue 
  • Productive cough and runny or stuffy nose 
  • No headache 
  • No muscle aches 
  • No chills 
If you suspect that you may have the flu, please call your transplant nurse practitioner before coming to the Penn Lung Center. To minimize the potential spread of the virus, you may be asked to wear a mask and to sit away from other patients waiting for appointments. You may be advised not to come to the hospital at all.

Don't forget, you can get the influenza vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, including pneumococcal vaccine. So, if you are a pulmonary patient and it has been five years or more since your last pneumococcal vaccine (known as “Pneumovax"), please ask your healthcare provider to administer both injections at the same visit. (And let the lung center team know so we can keep your medical records up to date.)