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Lymphangioleiomyomatosis Can Qualify Patients for Lung Transplants at Tampa General Hospital

Young woman talking with doctorLymphangioleiomyomatosis is a lung condition that is characterized by the overgrowth of cells resembling smooth muscles within the lungs. These cells can gradually crowd out the normally functioning lung cells, diminishing the capacity and function of the lungs. Over time, the lungs become less capable of efficiently transferring oxygen into and carbon dioxide out of the blood, causing a person to experience difficulty breathing.

Lymphangioleiomyomatosis seems to occur almost exclusively in women of child-bearing age, although there have been cases of younger girls and older women experiencing the condition. Researchers are still unsure as to what causes lymphangioleiomyomatosis, but there may be a connection between the condition and the production of estrogen. The type and severity of lymphangioleiomyomatosis symptoms varies from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain or achiness
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Pleural effusion (a buildup of fluid in the sac that surrounds the lungs)
  • Swelling of abdomen, legs, or feet

Because lymphangioleiomyomatosis is a relatively rare condition that shares some symptoms with asthma and other, more common respiratory conditions, it may initially be misdiagnosed. After proper diagnosis, treatment will depend upon the individual patient and the progression of her lymphangioleiomyomatosis. The most common treatments include oxygen therapy to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, medications to relax the airways, and procedures to remove excess fluid in the sac surrounding the lungs (pleural effusion) and abdomen (edema). If the lymphangioleiomyomatosis continues to progress and makes it impossible for the lungs to function properly, a patient may be referred to a transplant center for a lung transplant.

Tampa General Hospital’s Lung Transplant Program accepts adult candidates who are experiencing severe lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or other lung diseases that can lead to respiratory failure. We are one of the top lung transplant programs in Florida, performing a high volume of transplants with some of the shortest average times to transplant in the nation. Our experienced transplant team will evaluate every patient who is referred to our program using the information included on their physician-submitted Cardiothoracic Transplant referral form, as well as other factors. We will determine if the patient is a good candidate for transplant, or if another treatment may be more advisable. For more information about transplant selection criteria for patients with lymphangioleiomyomatosis and Tampa General’s Lung Transplant Program, 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.