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Forum Name: Miscellaneous Chest Diseases

Question: Bullous Emphysema


 Lanette29 - Sun Feb 12, 2006 9:10 am

My mother (age 54) was diagnosed a couple weeks ago with Bullus/Bullous Emphysema. Being that she is not computer savvy, I told her I'd try to get as much info as possible.

For three years she has been having excruciating chest pains that last for an hour or more, occurring once a month. The pains are alleviated, almost completely by taking 3 Ibuprofin + 1 Valium. She has had repeated testing for cardiac problems, all show normal findings. Out of a "last ditch effort" her doctor ordered a CT scan of the chest and digestive tract. The CT scan findings were as follows:

No Masses, nodules, nodes or Pleural Effusion noted
Multiple small bullae noted in upper portion of lungs bilaterally
Diagnosis: Bulleous Emphysema

She has no follow-up, was told to do nothing other than to stop smoking (she has smoked for 40 years). She was not referred to a Pulmonologist.

She has no other symptoms of emphysema, no SOB, no cough (other than the dry cough she has had for the past 20 years), no wheezing, no persistant chest infections like pneumonia, bronchitis... The only symptom was her Chest Pain, which when she does experience is accompanied by SOB. She was told that the CP is unrelated to the emphysema and is chest muscle spasms.

Our family history includes: my grandmother (her mother) died 2 years ago from Lung Cancer, multiple people with asthma, her sister had a collapsed lung.

Does this sound like she's receiving proper care/diagnosis?

Thanks!
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:55 pm

User avatar Dear Lanette29,

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include a group of diseases that cause progressive lung damage. They include chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema.
Patients with emphysema have shortness of breath, chronic mild cough and wheeze.

Smoking is the main cause. The disease progress gradually and usually evident clinically by the age of 50.

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) can detect emphysematous lung changes even before symptoms exist. CT Scan is of choice in the diagnosis.

The disease is treated mainly by smoking cessation in addition to other supportive measures like bronchiodilators and steroids.

Small Isolated bullae with normal lung that do not interfere with lung functions are treated by conservative measures. Giant bullae in otherwise normal lung affecting lung function may benefit from surgical excision of the bullae.

Hope you find this information useful.
Best regards,

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