Complex lung problems like airway tumors, narrowed air passages (strictures) and, severe asthma can cause breathing problems that make it difficult to live your life. At MUSC Health, we can help, with care and treatments that can make breathing easier.
Our experts provide the complete range of interventional pulmonology therapies. In fact, we provide some treatments that aren’t available elsewhere in South Carolina.
Why Choose Us?
We offer expertise and specialized care that draws patients from all over South Carolina. Using the latest technologies, we pinpoint the source of the problem and deliver treatments that open blocked airways. We’ve gained deep experience from treating a high volume of patients – and that gives you the best possible chances for successful treatment.
Highlights of our program include:
- Expertise: Our doctors were among the first in South Carolina to be board-certified in interventional pulmonology. This designation means they have passed rigorous exams demonstrating expertise in caring for complex lung and airway problems. We also treat and diagnose complex pleural diseases (problems in the lining that surrounds the lungs). And we treat rare lung diseases such as pulmonary alveolar proteinosis in our rare lung disease clinic.
- Minimally Invasive Approach: Often, we can perform tests and deliver treatments non-surgically. We use bronchoscopes (flexible instruments with a light and camera at the tip) to access the airways through the nose or mouth. You can expect shorter recovery times and less discomfort than with traditional surgical techniques.
- Broad Range of Treatments: Because we offer the latest treatments, our team can tailor care to meet your medical needs and personal preferences. When new treatments become available, we are quick to adopt them. MUSC Health was the first program in South Carolina to perform several advanced procedures to treat complex airway problems.
- Team Approach: We were the first program in South Carolina to offer a multidisciplinary lung cancer clinic where you can see multiple experts, including surgeons and oncologists, in one visit. We coordinate every step of your care journey so you can focus on feeling better. Read more about our lung and thoracic cancers program.
- Life-Saving Care: If other treatments fail to restore normal lung functioning, a transplant may save your life. During this procedure, we remove the diseased portion of the lung and replace it with healthy donor tissue. MUSC Health is the only program in South Carolina with a lung transplant program. Our expertise assures a safe procedure while helping you achieve excellent results. Read more about our lung transplant program.
- Research: MUSC Health is moving the field forward through research and leadership. Our interests include every aspect of lung cancer care. We also work to discover new ways to diagnose and treat problems in the airways and membranes of the lungs (pleura). We share our findings with doctors from all over the country through publications and speaking engagements. Read more about clinical trials and research at MUSC Health.
Diagnostic Testing for Complex Lung & Airway Problems
We use sophisticated tests to diagnose rare and complex problems with a high degree of accuracy. From lung cancer to coughs that just won’t quit, we get to the bottom of your symptoms so you can get the treatment you need to feel better.
Diagnostic tests available at MUSC Health include:
- Endobronchial Ultrasound: An ultrasound device attached to the tip of a bronchoscope provides real-time imaging of lymph nodes, masses, and blood vessels in the airways. Ultrasound uses sound waves to produce detailed, high-definition images.
- Flexible Bronchoscopy: This test uses a soft bronchoscope that follows the natural curves of your airways so we can examine structures deep within your lungs.
- Navigational Bronchoscopy: We use 3-D imaging along with special navigational technologies to examine growths that are not accessible with traditional bronchoscopes.
- Traditional Transbronchial Biopsy or Cryo Lung Biopsies: After pinpointing the source of the symptoms, we take a small tissue samples and examine them under a microscope.
Interventional Pulmonology Treatments
At MUSC Health, you have access to a broad range of treatments, including special technologies that assure safe, accurate treatment. We discuss the treatment options that we believe will work well for you. Then, together, we make a plan to help you feel better.
Interventional pulmonology treatments include:
- Rigid Bronchoscopy: This procedure uses metal bronchoscopy tubes of different sizes to deliver treatments such as making tumors smaller. We also open narrow airways using heat to remove excess tissue or by implanting special devices (stents).
- Ablation: Using beams of warm or cold energy, we remove damaged or abnormal tissue to open up tight airways. Ablation helps some patients achieve lasting relief from severe asthma.
- Bronchial Thermoplasty: Using a special device that produces mild heat, we shrink swollen muscle tissue in the airways to ease breathing in people with asthma.
- Endobronchial Brachytherapy: For this lung cancer treatment, we deliver high doses of radiation to the precise location of the tumor in an airway. This precision helps to minimize damage to areas beyond the tumor itself.
- Devices: We insert expandable metal and silicone stents to open up or support damaged airways so air can pass through more freely. We also repair air leaks by implanting endobronchial valves (valves inside the bronchi) that prevent air from leaking out of the lungs into the pleural space.
- Device Revisions: If you have a stent or valve that has worn out or isn’t working properly, we remove the old device and replace it with a new one.
- Ultrasound-Guided Pleural Procedures: We use ultrasound imaging technology to pinpoint problems in the pleural space and safely deliver treatments. For example, an ultrasound-guided procedure can help doctors remove the extra fluid buildup that is common with pleural effusion.
- Whole-Lung Lavage: We bathe the lungs in a fluid that removes buildup of a fatty substance called surfactant that makes it hard to breathe. This treatment can help people with complications of pulmonary alveolar proteinosis.