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Lung diseases

Scar Tissue in Lungs

10/03/2011

Question:

My 34 year old daughter got blood clots in her lungs two years ago and recently saw a Pulomalogist. She is using oxygen 24/7 and still is in tremedious pain. He had a sleep study and now is discussing surgery to remove the scare tissue. I can`t find anything on this, can you assist me? Please inform me all you know. She also has congested heart failure and RA. Thank you, Concerned Mother

Answer:

Most patients who have pulmonary emboli (blood clots) have complete resolution of the clots fairly shortly after starting treatment. In a small percentage of patients, the blood clots do not dissolve and instead convert to scar inside of the blood vessels of the lung. This is a condition called "chronic thromboembolic disease".

Patients with this condition can develop pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure (blood backing up behind the right ventricle of the heart), and a low blood oxygen level. The treatment for this ocndition is a surgery called "pulmonary thromboendarterectomy" when a surgeon opens the chest and removes the scar tissue from within the blood vessels of the lung.

This is a complex procedure that is most commonly done at larger hospitals with experienced teams of surgeons, anesthesiologists, and pulmonologists on hand to manage them. Successful surgery can result in a substantial improvement in the quality of life and many patients are able to come off of oxygen.
 
It is also important to look for reasons why young persons clot - many will have either inherited causes of clotting or will have a condition called "anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome", a condition that can occasionally occur with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

From your question, I was not sure if this is the type of scar tissue that you were asking about.

For more information:

Go to the Lung diseases 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