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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Scarring of the lungs
I have severe scarring of the lungs from years of dealing with lupus. Are there any treatments available to remove or lessen the scar tissue in the lungs?
Patients with lupus can develop scar in the lungs from a variety of conditions, each of which is approached differently from a medical standpoint. First, patients with lupus are prone to infection and repeated pneumonias can cause lung scar. Second, medications used to treat lupus can sometimes cause fibrosis (scar) in the lung. Third, lupus can cause several interstitial lung diseases that result in fibrosis. Each of these interstitial lung diseases respond differently to treatment and each can have a different prognosis.
For any condition, after fibrosis sets into the lung, there is no way to get the scar out. However, many of these conditions have a combination of both scar and inflammation -- medications can sometimes reduce the inflammation and improve the lung condition.
The first step is to see a pulmonologist and determine what has caused the fibrosis (medication, lupus itself, or infection). After a confident diagnosis is established, then the next step is to determine if the condition is treatable with medications. In some patients, lung transplant may be an option for younger patients with severe fibrosis and no other serious medical problems.
James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University