If your airways or lungs become obstructed—by a tumor, scarring, or a foreign body—it can become hard to breathe. Interventional pulmonology (IP) uses minimally invasive procedures and specialized tools to diagnose and treat airway and breathing issues.
Because IP treatments are minimally invasive, patients can benefit from shorter hospital stays, lower risk of bleeding, and faster recoveries. Columbia offers some IP procedures in an outpatient setting.
What Is a Bronchoscope?
Many interventional procedures use a flexible, steerable instrument called a bronchoscope. It is inserted directly through the nose or mouth and into the airways and lungs. Bronchoscopes are used to perform tests, remove airway obstructions, and place valves or stents to improve airflow.
Interventional Pulmonology at Columbia
The Interventional Pulmonology Program at Columbia operates jointly under the Department of Surgery and the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. We offer expert consultation and sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for all types of airway, lung, and pleural diseases, including:
Multidisciplinary Approach to Care
We work closely with multiple specialties across Columbia to provide our patients with a tailored, multidisciplinary treatment plan.
Specialized Care Programs
We offer state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment and the highest quality of care for patients with advanced airway and pleural disease.
Lung Cancer Care Program
As part of the Price Family Center for Comprehensive Chest Care, we work closely with our pulmonary medicine, thoracic surgery, and oncology groups at Columbia to provide expert consultation for lung cancer. Our multidisciplinary approach allows us to provide the most comprehensive and contemporary care options. We perform minimally invasive procedures to help diagnose and treat cancer at the earliest stage possible, including:
Central Airway Program
Obstruction and stenosis (narrowing) of the trachea and central bronchial airways can limit your ability to breathe and perform the tasks of daily life. It can occur with cancer where a tumor is compressing or growing within the trachea and bronchus and with non-cancerous obstructions such as stenosis or scarring. It can also be caused by infections, inflammatory diseases, or complications from treatments like endotracheal intubation and tracheostomies.
Our Central Airway Program removes obstructing tissue using natural-orifice procedures like:
We can also place or remove airway stents, tracheostomy tubes, and Montgomery cannulas to help patients breathe comfortably.
Pleural Disease Program
The pleura is a thin sheet of tissue that surrounds the outside of your lungs. Pleural disease can cause fluid can build up in the chest, making it difficult to breathe and causing other symptoms like coughing and chest pain. Pleural disease is a common condition for many patients with cardiac, liver, and renal disease, and various types of cancer. In addition to fluid buildup, patients can have air leak into the chest cavity (pneumothorax, or collapsed lung).
Our Pleural Disease Program offers a comprehensive pleural care service. We perform same-day and in-clinic procedures to relieve patient symptoms and preventive measures to help keep patients out of the hospital. We perform:
Chest tube placement
Tunneled or indwelling pleural catheters
Pleurodesis via video-assisted awake thoracoscopic surgery
Endobronchial valves and pleural tubes
Tracheobronchomalacia is an under-recognized condition where the cartilage in the trachea and bronchi are weakened, making it difficult to breathe. Tracheobronchomalacia symptoms include persistent cough, breathlessness, and recurrent respiratory infections.
Our Tracheobronchomalacia Program can help identify this condition using sophisticated diagnostic procedures. We work closely with our thoracic surgery colleagues to treat this condition with airway stents and tracheobronchoplasty—a surgical procedure that can help stabilize the trachea and airways.
Hemoptysis and Foreign Body Program
Bleeding from the lungs can be scary–especially for patients with cancer or lung infections. Columbia's Hemoptysis and Foreign Body Program offers timely consultation to diagnose and treat this condition. We perform diagnostic rigid and flexible bronchoscopy. We can often treat bleeding with cryotherapy and electrosurgery. We can also help identify the cause of bleeding to help prevent future occurrences.
Foreign bodies such as food particles, teeth, and other materials can enter the lungs. Removing these items requires precision and skill to avoid further infection, damage, and bleeding in the airways. At Columbia, we use rigid bronchoscopy with various specialized retrieval instruments to offer our patients relief from this potentially dangerous scenario.
Conditions We Treat
Pleural effusion ("water on the lungs")
Airway foreign body
Treatments and Services We Offer
Endobronchial tumor ablation
Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)
Bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVRS) Tunneled pleural catheter (indwelling pleural catheter)
Whole Lung Lavage