"End-stage lung disease occurs when someone loses more than 70 percent of lung function as determined by a pulmonary function test," said Dr. Harish Seethamraju, medical director of BCM's lung transplant program.
Causes of lung disease
Lung disease has several causes, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and cystic fibrosis.
Before considering surgery, treatment options such as oxygen therapy, inhalers and oral medications should be tried. However, if these treatments do not work within three months, chances are low that they will be effective, said Seethamraju, also an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at BCM.
Early intervention key
Because of scientific advancements, surgeons can handle more complexities in lung transplant patients and can even perform combined organ surgeries such as heart/lung transplants or liver/lung transplants.
The earlier patients are referred to a lung transplant program, the better chances they will have for a lung transplant, said Seethamraju.