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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Can Ultimately Lead to a Lung Transplant

Doctor examining coughing manIdiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease of the lungs characterized by the scarring (fibrosis) of lung tissue. Scarring usually begins along the edges of the lungs and then spreads to the center of the lungs. As the scarring accumulates, it gets thicker and harder over time, which can make it more difficult for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may find that breathing becomes more and more difficult as the disease progresses.

There is no known cause for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. However, people can be more likely to develop it if they are taking potent drugs such as heart medications or chemotherapy agents, or if they have been exposed to radiation or irritants such as asbestos and silica dust. Smoking is also a widely acknowledged major risk factor.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis sometimes find it difficult to walk or move around without experiencing shortness of breath. Other symptoms people may experience include:

  • Lasting tiredness
  • Dry cough, with no mucus present
  • Weight loss
  • Enlargement and rounding of the fingertips and nails (a condition known as clubbing)
  • Aches and pains in the muscles and joints

The damage caused by fibrosis of the lungs cannot be reversed. People with mild to moderate scarring can treat symptoms using anti-inflammatory drugs such as cytotoxic agents and corticosteroids, as well as participating in respiratory therapy to improve breathing. Many individuals may also use supplemental oxygen to help ease breathlessness and encourage more activity. As scarring worsens over time, a lung transplant may be recommended. A transplant is also recommended to individuals who already have severe scarring or whose quality of life is significantly affected by symptoms.

Tampa General Hospital’s Lung Transplant Program treats adult patients who have severe lung conditions, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Both single- and double-lung transplants are performed at TGH. Patients are evaluated for transplant eligibility on a case-by-case basis using information provided in a physician-submitted Cardiothoracic Transplant referral form, as well as other factors.

To learn more about Tampa General Hospital’s Lung Transplant Program, including general information about our selection criteria for adult patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), please call 1-800-505-7769 (press 3 for the lung transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.