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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Benign Lung Diseases

About the Lungs

The lungs are sponge-like organs in the chest that take in oxygen when you inhale and release carbon dioxide when you exhale. When lungs work properly, oxygen is processed in the lungs and sent to the rest of the body through the blood. That oxygen is vital to functioning and survival. Carbon dioxide, a waste product of our cells, is released from the body upon exhalation. Exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen is another critically important function of the lungs.

Why Northwestern Memorial?

Effective management of benign (non-cancerous) diseases of the lungs often requires the combined expertise of several types of physician specialists. At Northwestern Memorial, thoracic surgeons collaborate with physicians specializing in pulmonology, general surgery, and radiology to offer comprehensive evaluation and to develop a therapeutic plan that best addresses each patient’s unique clinical needs.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes a number of diseases that are characterized by lung dysfunction caused when the airflow to and from areas within the lung is blocked or obstructed. Most people have heard of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and those two lung diseases are both forms of COPD.

COPD is challenging to manage, often requiring the expertise of several specialists. Our multidisciplinary team includes pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons and radiologists. Which type of physician you see will depend on the severity of your COPD and what the best treatment options are for you. You can trust that our physicians will work together to make sure that you get the best care possible.

Learn more about COPD > > >


For patients with emphysema, we offer expertise in performing a novel, minimally invasive surgical procedure to improve breathing, called lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS). In carefully selected patients with emphysema mostly in the upper lobes, LVRS is an effective treatment to lessen symptoms.

Learn more about robotic and video-assisted thoracic surgeries (VATS) > > >

Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM)

Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) is an increasingly recognized abnormality of the central airways that may occur in association with chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It also may be caused by a long period of intubation (breathing tube in the windpipe). Patients with TBM can develop severe airway obstruction with dyspnea (shortness of breath), intractable cough, and an inability to clear mucus from the lungs. Our interventional pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons collaborate to provide a comprehensive evaluation including advanced airway imaging and functional bronchoscopy.

Treatment options include temporary placement of a silicone stent in the airway and a new surgical corrective procedure, membranous tracheobronchoplasty.

Last UpdateJanuary 24, 2012