Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Loyola Opens Clinic To Treat Disease That Preys On Women During Childbearing Years

Medical care had been hard to find for disorder that is often misdiagnosed as asthma, emphysema or bronchitis

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Six years ago after the birth of her first son, Laura Lentz started experiencing some minor asthma-like symptoms.

“I thought I was just out of shape from pregnancy,” said Lentz, 37, a resident of Evanston, Ill. “I didn’t know what was going on, but it wasn’t bad enough to do anything about it.”

Two years later, after the birth of her second son in 2007, Lentz’s symptoms became a great deal worse.

“I was having severe shortness of breath and stomach pains,” Lentz said. “I ended up in the ER and they took a CT scan of my lungs and found some cysts. That’s what eventually led to my diagnosis.”

Lentz was diagnosed with a rare lung disease known as lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM.

“It was very hard because they didn’t tell me much more about LAM,” she said. “I went to the Internet and looked it up and what I found was pretty traumatic.”

In patients with LAM, abnormal cells start growing out of control in the body, including the lungs, lymph nodes, lymph vessels and kidneys. Over time, the abnormal cells form cysts that can invade the lungs, destroying and replacing normal lung tissue. Symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent cough, collapsed lung, chest pains and fatigue.

LAM is a progressive and frequently fatal disease that almost exclusively strikes women, usually during their childbearing years. There is no cure for the disease and death comes from respiratory failure.

However, with early intervention and treatment, a LAM patient’s length of survival and quality of life can be improved and her lifespan dramatically extended. It is a rare disease that was once featured in the popular television drama “House.”

Due to its rarity, LAM patients have had to travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to find physicians who are knowledgeable enough to care for the condition, which is frequently misdiagnosed as asthma, emphysema or bronchitis.

“I had to travel east as far away as Cincinnati, Ohio, and Bethesda, Md., to find a clinic and physicians,” Lentz said.

Fortunately, Laura has finally found the care she requires much closer to home after Loyola University Medical Center became one of a network of 16 clinics across the nation to diagnose and treat LAM. It’s the only designated LAM clinic in Illinois.

“At Loyola we provide a breadth of experience and skill in specialty areas that pertain to LAM,” said pulmonologist Dr. Daniel Dilling, medical director of the LAM clinic and of respiratory care at Loyola. “We can manage the spectrum of LAM patients’ problems – all the way from minor shortness of breath to managing involvement of other organs or of a collapsed lung and even to lung transplantation, if necessary.”

Loyola’s LAM clinic is led by a number of pulmonologists, radiologists, pathologists, interventional radiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, all of whom work together to diagnose, treat and manage the complications of the disease. They are supported by respiratory therapists, nutritionists and physical therapists. Patients at Loyola’s LAM Clinic also will have access to a variety of clinical trials designed to find treatments for LAM.

“The LAM patients in the Chicago area have been eager to have a LAM clinic in their area,” said Jill Raleigh, executive director of the LAM Foundation, the national organization that designated Loyola as a clinic for the disease. “In the Chicago area, we have a large patient population considering how rare the disease is.”

To schedule an appointment with Loyola’s LAM Clinic, call toll-free (888) LUHS-888 and ask for extension 6-4946. The clinic will initially care for patients on the last Tuesday of each month, but patients may also be scheduled at other times with Dilling.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.