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Pulmonologist vs. B-Reader

Posted in: Articles December 12, 2016 By Stan Gottfredson Read by 86 Users

A pulmonologist, as well as a B-Reader is a physician whose work involves reading the X-rays of patients who are undergoing medical investigations in order to determine whether a pulmonary disease or condition such as asbestosis, pleural effusion or pleural mesothelioma is affecting their lungs. Both the pulmonologist and the B-Reader can provide you with useful information regarding the health of your respiratory system. However, their expertise is quite different in terms of educational requirements, certification, and purpose of evaluation.

How Do the Education and Professional Training of a B-Reader Differ from a Pulmonologist’s?

Although both specialists’ area of expertise focuses on the diagnosis of lung diseases and conditions, there are several notable differences concerning their education requirements:

  • A B-Reader’s education entails receiving their medical degree from a university and being subsequently certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and re-tested every four years. Moreover, B-Readers are exclusively specialized in pneumoconioses (occupational lung diseases).
  • A pulmonologist, on the other hand, needs to complete residency training after graduating from university, as well as undergo a fellowship program, in order to obtain certification. Even though their expertise includes pneumoconioses, it is not limited to this type of affections.

How Do B-Readers and Pulmonologists Diagnose Asbestos-Related Conditions?

Both a B-Reader and a pulmonologist are medical experts who can accurately assess your condition. Nevertheless, the diagnostic procedures employed, as well as their reports are significantly different:

  • A pulmonologist is qualified for diagnosing and treating pulmonary diseases and conditions. They are able to assess a precise diagnosis, as well as prescribe appropriate treatment afterwards.
  • However, a B-Reader is only proficient in classifying radiographs. The X-rays of patients suffering from lung related affections will often present small irregular opaque regions called parenchymal opacities. B-Readers offer an evaluation of these areas, determining their type, size and location by comparing the patient’s series of X-rays with a standardized set of radiographic films without assigning a diagnosis at the end of the analysis.

Which Specialist Can Provide Me With the Most Reliable Diagnosis?

While a B-Reader can provide you with an opinion regarding the state of your lungs, a pulmonologist is the physician who can properly and accurately diagnose pulmonary diseases and conditions and further guide you towards the most suitable treatment approach. If abnormalities have been observed following evaluation, a B-Reader may refer you to a pulmonologist who can interpret your X-rays and offer a reliable diagnosis. Nevertheless, due to the fact that precisely diagnosing asbestos related diseases and conditions, particularly in their incipient phases, is often a challenging task, a pulmonologist may also suggest more invasive examination procedures such as a biopsy.

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