Stage Four Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatment
Pulmonary fibrosis is, unfortunately, incurable. However, the disease is treatable. Stage four pulmonary fibrosis is often referred to as end-stage pulmonary fibrosis, which is the final stage of the disease, but stage four pulmonary fibrosis treatment is possible despite its severity. In fact, there are many possible treatments for pulmonary fibrosis as there are a variety of possible causes and prognoses. As an incurable disease, the treatment is not meant to make the disease disappear, but rather can be used to improve a patient’s quality of life, to improve symptoms or to delay the progression of the disease. Initially, many physicians prescribe a combination of medicines to suppress the immune system, but these have not proved successful in the long run. In these situations, patients often progress to end-stage pulmonary fibrosis. In order to help individuals struggling to breathe, supplemental oxygen can work to prevent shortness of breath and make life more comfortable. Occasionally, pulmonary rehabilitation and nutritional counseling are offered as a means of boosting a patient’s endurance. In the most severe cases, physicians may recommend a lung transplant, but this often has limited availability and extensive requirements for procedure eligibility. Thankfully, a new treatment using stem cells is available as a result of the hard work of a visionary group of physicians dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with lung disease.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Defined
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when the the lungs become scarred. This scarring causes the lungs’ complex passageways to thicken and harden. This obstructs the free passage of oxygen through the walls of tiny air sacs called alveoli and prevents sufficient oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. Pulmonary fibrosis sufferers experience shortness of breath even after extended periods of rest. Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive disease, degenerative at varying rates, depending on the individual. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis refers to the onset of this condition with no known cause. Pulmonary fibrosis is included in a family of conditions referred to as interstitial lung disease.
The Relation of Pulmonary Fibrosis to Interstitial Lung Disease
The term interstitial lung disease refers to the group of roughly 100 different types of pulmonary disorders that affect the absorption of oxygen in the lungs. Each of these disorders alters the interstitium–the tissue and space surrounding the alveoli—the cluster-like air sacs—of the lungs. Typically the interstitium is not visible, but when an individual has interstitial lung disease, the interstitium becomes visible as a result of progressive scarring. This progressive scarring is characteristic of the whole family of disorders encompassed by interstitial lung disease such as pulmonary fibrosis. Previously the effects of interstitial lung disease were completely irreversible; now there are a variety of treatments available for individuals suffering from end stage interstitial lung disease.
Stem Cells and Chronic Lung Disease
Stem cells are the building blocks of living organisms. They have the ability for self-renewal and replication, thus are capable of forming any type of tissue or organ in the body. Adult stem cells from one organ are capable of forming tissue for another organ, which is called plasticity. It has been found that adult stem cells are capable of being transferred into any one single organ of the body.
Stem Cell Treatment for Stage Four Pulmonary Fibrosis
In the case of people with end stage pulmonary fibrosis, autologous stem cells are used, meaning the cells come from the patient’s own body. They can be found in the patient’s blood (venous) and bone marrow. Stem cells derived from the blood and bone marrow have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells. During the procedure, stem cell treatment involves isolating adult stem cells from bone marrow, which requires special laboratory techniques to collect them.
After being extracted from the patient’s body, the stem cells are then isolated. Finally, they are given back to the patient intravenously. The treatment is minimally invasive and typically an outpatient procedure. The procedure should be performed in a clinical setting under the supervision of a professional. It takes a physician that has sought specific training to perform stem cell therapy adequately and safely. If you would like to find out more about our available treatment options for end stage pulmonary fibrosis, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation