Interstitial Lung Disease and Pulmonary Fibrosis are general terms used to describe inflammatory and fibrotic disorders of lung tissue (interstitium). There are over 100 known causes of interstitial lung disease and pulmonary fibrosis, which include familial and genetic disorders, inhaled substances, infections, medications, and connective tissue diseases.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is an interstitial lung disease characterized by chronic inflammation, accompanied by an uncontrolled healing response that causes progressive scarring or thickening (fibrosis) of tissues between the lung’s alveoli, or air sacs. The cause of IPF is unknown, although the body’s own immune response seems to play a major role. The disease affects more men than women.
Patients usually present with a subtle onset of breathlessness with exercise. Over time there is a progressive worsening of breathlessness, as oxygen transfer to the blood decreases. Heart failure often develops. The median survival for people with IPF is five years.
Surgery for Interstitial Lung Disease
At Suncoast Surgical Associates, our thoracic surgeons are able to help accurately diagnose patients by using a minimally invasive procedure called VATS or video assisted thoracoscopic surgery. This allows multiple areas of the lung to be biopsied and scanned to determine the presence of this disorder without the need for a large incision.
Standard treatment for IPF is intended to improve symptoms and slow progression of the disease. Corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs aim to reduce the inflammatory reaction and prevent the scarring and thickening of lung tissues. Lung transplantation is occasionally used as a last resort.