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interventional pulmonology

Interventional pulmonology

Our department

The Interventional Pulmonology Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Atlanta, treats lung cancer and related symptoms that may cause discomfort, like shortness of breath, coughing or chest pain, all without performing surgery. The team also treats patients with cancers that metastasize to the lungs and patients with other chronic lung diseases.

What is an interventional pulmonologist?

An interventional pulmonologist is a physician specializing in diagnosing and treating diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. Specifically, interventional pulmonologists perform advanced techniques to diagnose and treat complex conditions of the airways, lungs and the rest of the respiratory system. They also perform minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat benign and malignant diseases.

Experienced interventional pulmonology team

The interventional pulmonary team at CTCA® Atlanta specializes in diagnosing and managing lung cancer and other cancers that have spread to the lung or airways. We also manage complications that may develop from therapy to the airways or airway obstructions that result from advanced diseases, and we use various procedures to treat pleural effusions (fluid around the lung), which may compound the effects of lung cancer.

In addition to treating tumors, many pulmonology techniques and procedures may help support your quality of life. At CTCA Atlanta, your team includes oncologists and pulmonologists who work together to tailor these lung cancer treatments to your specific needs.

When you arrive at CTCA Atlanta, if pulmonary medicine is part of your care, you will meet with the interventional pulmonology team. Before you begin treatment, if needed, we’ll use a variety of diagnostic tools and procedures to evaluate the location and stage of cancer, as well as the existence of metastasis. Using the results, we will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs. Throughout your care, the interventional pulmonology team will help answer your questions and help make your treatment experience as comfortable and efficient as possible.

Treatment advances

We use minimally invasive bronchoscopy techniques for many of our interventional pulmonology procedures. At CTCA Atlanta, we provide a number of interventional pulmonology treatment options for each patient, including those with advanced-stage disease. We can apply innovative techniques and ablative treatments to help remove obstructions in the airway and to help relieve pain or breathing problems.

Bronchoscopy is a technology that uses a bronchoscope—a flexible and/or rigid tube with a camera at the end—that allows us to examine the airways. We use the bronchoscope to deliver laser and other cancer-killing technologies to tumors buried deep inside the lungs, helping to manage symptoms like bleeding or coughing. These tools may also be used to open up blocked airways and to treat early-stage lung cancer or a previously treated area. About 30 percent of lung cancers lead to airway obstruction. Symptoms of an obstruction include wheezing, respiratory failure and an uncontrolled cough.

Navigational bronchoscopy combines advanced imaging techniques to diagnose cancer in the lungs. We use navigational bronchoscopy to reach distant tumors by advancing the scope into smaller bronchi or bronchi that are blocked by a tumor. Other procedures performed via bronchoscopy include:

  • Controlling bleeding in the airway
  • Therapeutically removing a tumor and foreign bodies from the airway
  • Treating growths or tumors in the airway using radiation (e.g., HDR brachytherapy)
  • Placing airway stents

Which cancers does the interventional pulmonology team treat?

The interventional pulmonology team provides cancer treatments for any cancer affecting the lung. This includes primary lung cancer, as well as other cancers that spread (metastasize) to the lung and airways. The team also treats lung problems, such as an obstruction in the airway, regardless of the type of cancer that caused the blockage.

Breast, colon, renal cell (kidney), melanoma and esophageal cancer are examples of common cancer types that spread to the lung and airways.

The interventional pulmonology team at CTCA Atlanta

Rabih Bechara, MD, FACCP, joined CTCA Atlanta in December 2012 as the Chief of Interventional Pulmonology, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He oversees the pulmonology division at our Atlanta hospital, which offers advanced endoscopic diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to treating patients with abnormal growth and malignancies in the chest cavity.

Procedures that Dr. Bechara performs include endoscopic ultrasonography, confocal microendoscopy, pleuroscopy, stent placement for airway stenosis, photodynamic therapy and fiducial marker placement, to name a few.

Prior to joining CTCA, Dr. Bechara founded and directed the interventional pulmonology program at Emory University School of Medicine.