Interventional pulmonology is a fast-growing field in pulmonary medicine. It involves the use of minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat conditions that affect the lungs, trachea and chest. This approach causes less trauma than traditional procedures and often leads to a faster recovery, less pain and a reduced risk of complications.
At the Temple Lung Center, these outpatient procedures are performed by interventional pulmonologists who have undergone special training in this field. The tool of choice for these specialists is a bronchoscope — a small, flexible tube that is inserted into a patient’s windpipe and airways through the mouth or nose.
At the end of the bronchoscope is a small camera that allows doctors to visualize and diagnosis problems. Small tools can also be advanced through the bronchoscope, allowing doctors to take biopsies and perform procedures. These procedures can include the placement of stents to open airways, the use of lasers to burn away tumors, and the use of small balloons to widen a narrowed airway.
Leading the Field in Interventional Pulmonology
Temple is a longtime leader in the field of bronchoscopy, beginning in the 1920s when a Temple physician refined the use of the rigid bronchoscope to visualize the trachea and airways.
Today, the Temple Lung Center performs over 1,200 bronchoscopies a year and remains a leader in advancing the specialized field of interventional pulmonology. Temple was the first hospital in the Philadelphia region to perform bronchial thermoplasty and the first in the nation to be involved in a clinical trial to test Bronchoscopic Transparenchymal Nodule Access, a novel way of accessing nodules in the lungs’ airways. Temple maintains one of the nation’s most active clinical trials programs and is well-known for its use of coils and stents to reopen blocked airways.
Many of the Lung Center’s specialized programs, such as its Pleural Space Program and Tracheobronchomalacia Program, use flexible bronchoscopy to make a proper diagnosis and perform procedures.