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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Shadows

02/23/2009

Question:

My mom is in the hospital with pulmonary fibrosis. Her lung doctor has said her shadows on her lungs are "very bad". Can you help me understand what this means and what the out come is. She has already had some of her lung taken out for test, and the doctor came back with nothing on why these shadows are there and why it is so bad. Can you help me understand what might be going on. Thanks.

Answer:

Shadows in the lung can mean many, many things including pulmonary fibrosis. When physicians say "pulmonary fibrosis", it can mean many things. If the physicians have done a surgical lung biopsy, then they likely have a confident diagnosis of what type of pulmonary fibrosis she has.

One of the most serious types of pulmonary fibrosis is "idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis", or IPF. This is a disease that is not curable and steadily gets worse as fibrosis (scar) slowly builds up in the lung and blocks oxygen from getting from the air a person breathes into the bloodstream.

The more advanced the pulmonary fibrosis, the more scar (shadows) will be seen on the chest x-ray. Some forms of pulmonary fibrosis are less serious than IPF and so it is important to find out the specific diagnosis as well as the prognosis for the future. A conference with the lung specialist may give many of the answers.

For more information:

Go to the Pulmonary Fibrosis health topic, where you can:

Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University