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Conditions Treated

The Advanced Lung Disease Program is a comprehensive program treating lung diseases such as COPD/Emphysema and Interstitial Lung Disease.

We have extensive experience in research and clinical trials evaluating promising new treatments for lung diseases. In addition, UC San Diego Health System participated in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial.


The cause of COPD/emphysema is almost always smoking. The disease results in lung function deteriorating three times faster than the normal aging process.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Sedentary lifestyle due to shortness of breath
  • Weaker muscles
  • Greatly over-expanded lungs
  • At the end of exhalation, the emphysematous lung is like a balloon nearly filled to capacity. There is little room to take a deep breath.

Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose emphysema, your doctor will take a thorough medical history and perform a physical exam. The following diagnostic tools may also be used: chest x-rays, CT scans, pulmonary function tests, blood tests and

We offer various treatments for people suffering with severe emphysema. Traditional medical management involves medicines, inhalers, oxygen therapy if needed and pulmonary rehabilitation. All patients need to stop smoking.

We also specialize in Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS), which involves removing parts of the worst areas of the lungs. This procedure can:

  • Enable the remaining lung tissue to function more efficiently
  • Result in an increase in ability to exercise
  • Decrease shortness of breath
  • Improve quality of life

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is a term that includes a variety of chronic lung disorders, including pulmonary fibrosis. In ILD, the walls of the air sacs in the lungs may become inflamed, and the tissue (interstitium) that lines and supports the sacs can become increasingly thickened and scarred. This scarring can cause the lung to become stiff and cause shortness of breath and interfere with lung function.

ILD can be a difficult disease to treat, sometimes progressing slowly, and in other patients, very quickly.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Labored breathing
  • Dry, unproductive cough
  • Fatigue and weakness

Note: Symptoms of ILD can vary greatly among individuals.

Causes can include:

  • Environmental factors such as exposure to asbestos or metal dust
  • Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease of the lungs
  • Drug interactions or side effects
  • Radiation therapy
  • Connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis

Diagnosis and Treatment
ILD can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic those of many other medical conditions. In addition to doing a physical exam and taking your medical history, your doctor make use the following diagnostic procedures: chest x-rays, pulmonary function measurement, CT scans, bronchoalveolar lavage to remove cells from the lower respiratory tract, or bronchoscopy to obtain tissue samples.

Treatment of ILD can include medications, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy to relieve shortness of breath. In certain cases, a lung transplant may be appropriate.

For more information

For more than 15 years, UC San Diego Health System has consulted with community physicians, providing expertise in the management and treatment of a variety of pulmonary diseases. Recent advances in the understanding of lung disease offer new options and advanced care options for our patients. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 619-543-7300.