Interstitial Lung Disease

A Collaborative Interstitial Lung Disease Treatment Team

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a challenge to diagnose and treat. That’s because ILD is an umbrella term for a wide range of lung diseases, including:

  • Asbestosis
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease
  • Radiation fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Silicosis

These conditions stem from a variety of causes, such as exposure to toxins, medications, radiation or more. They may all look the same on a computed tomography (CT) scan, but it’s important to identify the source of the interstitial lung disease. Identifying the source helps UH’s pulmonary specialists determine the best course of interstitial lung disease treatment, including innovative therapies.

That’s why University Hospitals brings together a multidisciplinary team of specialists to determine the best path of care. Our team may include pulmonologists, radiologists, pathologists, thoracic surgeons and sleep specialists. ILD patients benefit from our ability to discuss diagnosis and treatment options from a variety of expert perspectives.

Leading-edge ILD Diagnostic

University Hospitals offers cryobiopsy, a new technique used to diagnose interstitial lung disease.

During the procedure, our pulmonary specialists use a thin tube called a bronchoscope to insert a probe on the chest wall. The probe is then cooled, allowing nearby lung tissue to freeze and attach itself. This procedure gives doctors a much larger tissue sample to test than a traditional — and more invasive — surgical biopsy.

Cryobiopsy is just one tool the pulmonary specialists at University Hospitals use to diagnose ILD. We also perform an occupational history and use high-resolution chest computed tomography (CT) scans, lung function tests and walking evaluations.

ILD 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.

New Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatments

Experts consider idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) one of the most dangerous 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.

However, specialists at University Hospitals can prescribe two new, FDA approved medications 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.

These diseases usually 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 for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the better.

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 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. For more information about our comprehensive pulmonary care, contact one of our pulmonary specialists at a convenient location near you.

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