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Interstitial Lung Disease

Expertise in Interstitial Lung Disease Treatment

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a broad group of lung disorders that cause inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs. These disorders include asbestosis, pneumoconiosis (black lung disease), radiation fibrosis, sarcoidosis and silicosis.

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The scarring makes the tissue in your lungs stiff, leading to difficulty breathing. ILD is a chronic condition that for the most part cannot be cured. However, treatments are available to slow disease progression, control symptoms and improve the quality of your life.

The most common symptoms of ILD are:

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

In the majority of cases, the exact cause of ILD is unknown, however there are several contributing factors, such as:

Custom 3-D Airway Stent Restores Patient’s Quality of Life

When commercial airway stents failed to manage Sam’s idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and led to complications, the pulmonary team at University Hospitals created a customized stent that relieved his symptoms and led to an improved quality of llife.

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  • Long-term exposure to hazardous chemicals, toxins or pollutants
  • Autoimmune diseases (when your immune system produces antibodies against your own organs)
  • Some medications
  • Radiation therapy (cancer treatment that uses an intense form of energy, called ionizing radiation)
  • Family history

Many ILDs have similar symptoms or look the same on a computed tomography (CT) scan, but it’s important to pinpoint the specific cause of the disease to determine the best course of treatment.

That’s why University Hospitals formed a multidisciplinary team of specialists to include pulmonologists, radiologists, rheumatologists, pathologists and thoracic surgeons. ILD patients benefit from our team’s ability to discuss diagnosis and treatment options from a variety of expert perspectives, to provide the best care.

Diagnosing Interstitial Lung Disease

University Hospitals offers a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis of ILD, with complete pulmonary function testing, walking evaluations, exercise testing, high-resolution chest computed tomography (HRCT), and in some cases, lung biopsies.

Biopsies can be done via bronchoscopy, using an innovative technology called cryobiopsy or by a video-assisted thoracoscopic technique. Cryobiopsy gives specialists a much larger tissue sample to test than a traditional bronchoscopy and is less invasive than a surgical biopsy. Our team’s discussion allows us to carefully select which patients are suited for which type of diagnostic procedure.

Patient-Centered Care

Our specialists actively involve patients in shared medical decisions and extensively educate patients on their disease‘s course and expectations. Supportive measures offered to all patients include oxygen assessment, updating their vaccinations and providing referrals for pulmonary rehabilitation.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatment

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is one of the most serious of all interstitial lung diseases. Idiopathic means that doctors find it difficult to pinpoint the origin of the disease. Unfortunately, IPF is also relatively common and has no cure.

Specialists at University Hospitals can prescribe the two medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat IPF. These drugs work to slow the progression of pulmonary fibrosis. We closely observe patients by scheduling frequent follow-up visits, taking blood samples often and watching carefully for any side effects.

Other fibrotic lung diseases start with inflammation, which is reversible. But once the disease progresses to the development of scar tissue, it’s nearly impossible to reverse. So, as with any interstitial lung disease, the sooner patients start treatment, the better.

Make an Appointment

Offering in-person, video and telephone visits. Call today to see which option is right for you.


Expert Lung Transplant Team at University Hospitals

If you or a loved one suffers from interstitial lung disease, we'll first look at treatment options including medications, oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation. But even with these interventions, the lungs may continue to deteriorate. That's when the specialists at University Hospitals can help you explore lung transplantation options.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Improves Quality of Life

Interstitial lung disease can make breathing and everyday activities a challenge. University Hospitals’ renowned pulmonary rehabilitation program is ready to help overcome that challenge.

Our rehabilitation team includes pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, dietitians, specially trained nurses and other experts to help improve your lung function. They teach patients how to ease breathing issues, reduce anxiety associated with ILD, boost exercise and stamina and improve respiratory hygiene to reduce infections. These strategies promote healthy living and extend quality of life.

University Hospitals has also partnered with the American Lung Association’s Better Breathers Club. This support group helps patients and their families better understand lung conditions, learn additional coping techniques and receive emotional support.