Breathing Easy Again

Vacaville resident Judy Fisher had experienced asthma as a young athlete years ago. But when she found herself in the NorthBay Health Emergency Department, straining to breathe, she knew it wasn’t asthma.

“They examined me and couldn’t see anything so I was sent home with an inhaler,” she recalled.

But the difficulty with getting enough air into her lungs continued. Her primary care doctor prescribed a stronger inhaler. Still, the problem persisted until she was once again in the Emergency Department. An X-ray revealed possible pneumonia and she was referred to a pulmonary specialist.

Fortunately, NorthBay Health pulmonologist Karan Julka, M.D., specializes in diseases and disorders of the lungs and is an expert in bronchoscopy. He told her that one of her lungs was beginning to collapse and she needed a bronchoscopy immediately.

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that lets the doctor look at a patient’s lungs and air passages. A thin tube (bronchoscope) is passed through the nose or mouth, down the throat and into the lungs.

A bronchoscopy is an essential tool in pulmonology. It is used not just in cases of obstructions but in the diagnosis of many lung issues.”
Karan Julka, M.D., pulmonologist

In Judy’s case, Dr. Julka was able to find that her airway was blocked by what turned out to be a small piece of carrot. He was able to remove it and her breathing improved immediately.

A day before her first visit to the hospital, Judy had choked while eating a carrot. She thought her coughing had cleared up the issue but that was certainly not the case.

Her airway tissue had grown around the carrot leading to lung collapse. Judy required multiple bronchoscopies with use of a laser to fully fix her breathing tube.

“I hate vegetables!” she jokes these days, but at the time it was no laughing matter.

Judy was relieved that it was done quickly.

She also has plenty of praise for Dr. Julka and the team who cared for her.

“Everyone was really nice,” she said. “They were always professional and everything went really well.”

And as for carrots? “I’m giving up vegetables,” she joked.

Bronchoscopy can be used to:

  • Identify a lung infection;
  • Biopsy tissue from the lung;
  • Remove tumors;
  • Place a small tube (stent) to hold open an airway; and
  • Treat a lung problem, such as bleeding or an abnormal narrowing of the airway (stricture).

For more information on pulmonary care, visit

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