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Doctor looking at lung scan

Interventional pulmonology is a rapidly evolving medical subspecialty that focuses on the use of minimally invasive techniques to diagnose, stage and treat lung cancer and other respiratory conditions that affect the upper airways or pleura. The interventional pulmonologists in the renowned Thoracic Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center are integral members of our multispecialty team, working closely with our oncologists and other cancer specialists to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient.

Techniques and procedures

Some of the techniques and procedures utilized by interventional pulmonologists include:

  • Bronchoscopy – A physician inserts a specialized medical device consisting of a thin, flexible tube and a high-definition optical system (bronchoscope) through the patient’s mouth and into his or her lungs, then obtains a sample of suspicious tissue for a biopsy.
  • Airway stent placement – Using a bronchoscope, a physician places a small mesh tube (stent) into a narrowed airway to keep it open and improve airflow and breathing.
  • Pleurodesis – Using a specialized medical device known as an indwelling pleural catheter (IPC), a physician drains excess fluid that has accumulated around the patient’s lungs.
  • Photodynamic therapy – A light-activated, cancer-fighting drug (photosensitizer) is administered and absorbed by cancerous cells within 24 to 72 hours. A physician will then guide a bronchoscope down the patient’s throat and into his or her lungs to expose a tumor to a specific wavelength of light, prompting the photosensitizer to produce an oxygen radical that destroys the cancer.

Advantages of interventional pulmonology

In many cases, interventional pulmonology procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis, which can help to ensure that a patient is able to continue his or her lung cancer treatment with minimal disruption. Additionally, these advanced treatments typically produce more rapid results than chemotherapy and radiation therapy, opening an obstructed airway immediately without the need to first shrink a tumor. Interventional pulmonology may also be an option for a patient who is not healthy enough to undergo surgery.

If you would like to learn more about interventional pulmonology, you can talk with an interventional pulmonologist in the Thoracic Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. To request an appointment, please call 1-888-663-3488 or complete our new patient registration form online. We provide every new patient with rapid access to a cancer expert as soon as possible, which is faster than any other cancer hospital in the nation.