The Interventional Pulmonology Program at the Penn Lung Center uses advanced techniques to diagnose and treat complex conditions of the airway, lungs and pleura (lining of the lungs). Interventional pulmonologists have specialized training in advanced procedures that may offer patients less invasive diagnostic and therapeutic options compared to traditional surgical approaches for treatment. Interventional pulmonology is often significant in the treatment of lung cancer and lung transplant patients.
Penn Medicine is one of the nation's oldest and most advanced providers of interventional pulmonology services. Penn’s interventional pulmonologists work collaboratively with pulmonary medicine, critical care, allergy, thoracic surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, otorhinolaryngology, and transplant specialists.
Sophisticated Procedures Can Diagnose and Treat Difficult Conditions
Patients are referred to the Penn Lung Center’s Interventional Pulmonology Program when they need an advanced procedure to make an accurate diagnosis or treat a difficult condition. Often, these procedures are less invasive than other surgical options. Some of the procedures available at Penn are listed below.
- EBUS (endobronchial ultrasound) and navigational bronchoscopy utilize state-of-the-art equipment to find small pulmonary nodules, masses or lymph nodes for biopsy. With these minimally invasive biopsies, an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan can be established. In many instances, patients can avoid a more invasive surgical biopsy.
- Laser bronchoscopy, a procedure used to clear malignant and benign airway obstructions. A bronchoscope is inserted into the airway and a laser is used to destroy the obstruction. The Penn Lung Center performs between 50 and 100 laser bronchoscopic procedures each year.
- Endobronchial stenting, a technique in which a stent is inserted in a patient’s central airway to keep the airway open and allow a patient to breathe easier. This procedure is performed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s need and condition. Penn’s Interventional Pulmonology Program is one of the highest volume centers in country performing endobronchial stenting.
- Endobronchial brachytherapy is the delivery of internal radiation therapy for the treatment of recurrent cancers of the airway. Penn offers both low-dose and high-dose brachytherapy for select patients with malignant airway disorders.
- LIFE-Lung fluorescence bronchoscopy is used for the early detection of endobronchial lung cancer. Interventional pulmonologists expose a patient’s abnormal lung tissue to light and are able to detect abnormalities that may not appear in other diagnostic tests. When detected at an early stage, these cancers may be more amenable to non-surgical treatment.