Pulmonary Diagnostic Tests & Procedures

Choose Essentia for a wide range of diagnostic tests, treatments, and procedures for your lung conditions, including:

  • Bronchoscopy – Examines the airways of the lungs through a thin, lighted tube (bronchoscope) to diagnose or treat lung conditions, biopsy tissue, and detect lung cancer
  • Chest X-ray – Takes pictures of your heart, lungs, and bones in your chest
  • Lung biopsy - Removes lung tissue samples for examination under a microscope; includes needle, transbronchial, thoracoscopic, and open biopsy methods
  • Low-dose CT lung cancer screening – Detects lung cancer
  • Mediastinoscopy – Uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and tiny camera (mediastinoscope) to examine the space between and in front of your lungs and collect tissue to examine in a lab
  • Methacholine challenge testing – Evaluates your lung function and looks at narrowing or tightening of your airways after inhaling a methacholine mist; helps diagnose asthma
  • Peak flow measurement – Measures air flow from your lungs when you forcefully exhale
  • Pulmonary function tests – Assesses your breathing and how well your lungs are functioning with normal and deep breathing tests
  • Pulse oximetry – Measures the oxygen level in your blood by clipping a device on your finger
  • Thoracentesis – Removes excess fluid or air from around the lungs using a needle inserted through your chest wall

Minimally Invasive Lung Procedures

Count on the pulmonary team at Essentia to use advanced techniques and minimally invasive procedures to treat your lung condition. That means you’ll benefit from:

  • Shorter recovery time
  • Less pain
  • Lower risk of complications

Your care team will answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options.

Auris Health Monarch TM Platform

Used to view the inside of your lungs and gather a tissue sample for a biopsy, the Auris Health Monarch TM Platform allows for earlier and more accurate diagnoses of small and hard-to-reach nodules on the edge of the lung.

The Monarch TM Platform is safe, accurate, and non-invasive.

Combining nonsurgical procedure views into your lung, with computer-assisted navigation based on 3D models of your lung anatomy, the Monarch TM Platform provides your doctor with views directly into the airways and lungs throughout the entire procedure. Essentia Health-Duluth and Essentia Health-Fargo are the first to use this technology in northern Minnesota and North Dakota, respectively.

Medical Insight: Monarch Robot Video Transcript

SPEAKER 1: Welcome to Medical Insight, a weekly health care feature brought to you by the experts at Essentia Health. Here's your host, Anthony Matt.

The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health.

ANTHONY MATT: Essentia Health is using a new tool to detect lung cancer. It's called the Monarch. It's a robotic assisted tool that helps detect lung cancer earlier. Inside St Mary's Medical Center in downtown Duluth, a new state of the art piece of equipment is helping Dr. Eric Swanson, a pulmonary and critical care physician, fight lung cancer.

Dr. Swanson sits in blue scrubs and a mask in a hospital room surrounded by equipment.

DR ERIC SWANSON: It's not a screening technology, but it's something that's often the next step after someone's had a chest screening CT. ANTHONY MATT: The technology is new to Essentia, and more efficient and less invasive than previous procedures. DR ERIC SWANSON: The goal of the robotic assisted bronchoscopy is to actually get a biopsy of a lung nodule. ANTHONY MATT: To do that, a patient is sedated and a tube is put down their throat so physicians can guide a small camera into the lungs. DR ERIC SWANSON: It's something that's easy to pick up and be able to drive into the appropriate locations. ANTHONY MATT: The Monarch platform provides physicians with continuous bronchoscope vision throughout the entire procedure.

Dr. Swanson holds a controller similar in shape to a video game controller, with two joysticks and buttons, and looks at a video screen to guide a camera.

DR ERIC SWANSON: This allows us to get further out into the lungs and safely biopsy the lung without requiring a major surgery. The added reach of this scope, and then the vision that we've never had before, I think the chances of us getting two lung nodules at an earlier state is far higher than ever before.

A camera with a light snakes through artificial lung tubes.

ANTHONY MATT: Essentia has been using the technology since the beginning of September. And so far, it's been paying dividends. DR ERIC SWANSON: We've had very good success so far. We've found infections, we've found lung cancers, we found benign lung tumors. ANTHONY MATT: In total, the whole process takes about one to two hours. And the patient is able to go home the same day. Essentia is one of only two facilities in the state of Minnesota to utilize this technology, and the only one north of the Twin Cities. SPEAKER 1: To learn more about this or other health topics, visit essentiahealth.org/medicalinsight.

The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Essentia Health. Medical Insight.


When you have a lung tumor, cryotherapy freezes and destroys diseased tissue and cancer cells. An interventional radiologist performs this treatment using an image-guided needle-like probe. The probe inserts nitrogen or argon into your tissue.

Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy (ENB)

This procedure uses GPS-like technology to create a 3-D roadmap of your lungs. The map helps your pulmonologist guide catheters through your lungs’ most complex airways. ENB can diagnose, biopsy, and treat damaged lung tissue in a single procedure.

If you have lung cancer, your doctor can also use this procedure to place markers that help your cancer care team target radiation to your tumors.

Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

During your EBUS, your doctor will insert a bronchoscope through your mouth and trachea with an ultrasound probe to perform a needle aspiration on your lymph nodes.

Using this procedure, your doctor can view hard-to-reach tumors and access smaller lymph nodes for biopsy than with other methods.

EBUS is used to diagnose lung cancer and other diseases causing enlarged lymph nodes in your chest.

Bronchial Thermoplasty for Asthma

If inhalers and other medications don’t control your severe asthma, your pulmonologist may recommend bronchial thermoplasty (BT).

During BT, your pulmonologist inserts a flexible bronchoscope through your mouth or nose and into your lungs. Through the bronchoscope, a small catheter delivers mild heat to your lung’s airway to shrink the amount of smooth muscle.

Following BT, your airway won’t constrict as much and you will experience fewer asthma attacks.

Thoracic Surgery

If your doctor recommends surgery for your lung condition, you can trust the highly skilled and experienced cardiothoracic surgeons at Essentia Health.

Ask for a Referral

You’ll need a referral from your primary care provider or a specialist for this service.

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