A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of lung conditions. If your primary care physician (PCP) refers you to a pulmonologist, you will probably receive an extensive lung exam. This will usually include chest films, chest CT scans, and pulmonary functions studies (PFT).
If there are suspicious findings on your chest films, your pulmonologist may decide to follow you with serial chest x-rays, which are x-rays taken every few months to monitor you for any changes. It may also be necessary to do more invasive exams, such as a bronchoscopy, a CT-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) or a core needle biopsy (CNB). If there is fluid around the lung, called a pleural effusion, the pulmonologist may do a thoracentesis to remove the fluid. This may be done to relieve respiratory distress, and/or to obtain fluid for examination and analysis by a pathologist.