Paul F. Harron, Jr. Lung Center

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) & Sarcoidosis Program at the Penn Lung Center

Penn's Interstitial Lung Disease Program offers evaluation, diagnosis and management of interstitial lung disease (ILD). Patients who qualify have the added advantage of participating in clinical trials of new and emerging treatments for ILD.

ILD is a broad category of more than 200 chronic lung disorders characterized by scarring of the lung tissue. Most ILDs are very rare and some can be very serious conditions.

Accurate Diagnosis of Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Accurate diagnosis of ILDs is often difficult due to large number of disorders, the similarity of symptoms to other diseases and the frequent lack of an identifiable cause. Studies have shown that the most accurate diagnoses occur when there is direct communication between a pulmonologist, radiologist and pathologist who are all experts in ILDs. Penn's diagnostic team includes specialists with extensive experience in diagnosing these diseases.

The diagnostic team can choose from a number of medical tests to accurately diagnosis ILD:

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Exercise test
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Lung biopsy (non-surgical or surgical)

ILDs are often treated with powerful medications that may have serious potential side effects. Penn's ILD team has comprehensive knowledge of available medications and treatments and is proficient in identifying the best treatment for each patient.

Extensive Understanding of the Scope of Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Most ILDs develop gradually, but some disorders occur quickly. Common symptoms of ILDs include very severe shortness of breath and relentless coughing. Many ILDs have no known cause, but others do. In some cases, ILDs can be attributed to:

  • Occupational and Environmental Exposure
    • Asbestos
    • Silica
    • Hard metal dusts
    • Bacteria
    • Animal proteins
    • Gases
    • Fumes
  • Drug Exposure
    • Chemotherapy
    • Antiarrhythmics
    • Antibiotics
  • Connective Tissue Disease
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Scleroderma
    • Polymyositis/dermatomyositis
  • Other
    • Radiation treatment
    • Residue of active infection
    • Inhaling high levels of therapeutic oxygen for an extended time

When ILDs occur as part of a larger syndrome affecting the entire body (such as connective tissue disease), Penn's team closely coordinates care with other specialists, including rheumatologists, dermatologists and cardiologists.

When needed, patients also have access to Penn's Lung Cancer team and Lung Nodule Program.