Thursday, March 14, 2013

Will Having One Lung Limit Pope Francis?

MAYWOOD, Ill. - According to news reports, Pope Francis had one lung removed due to an infection when he was a teenager.

“A person with two lungs has a lot of reserve function, so if one lung is removed, he or she can still function normally, without shortness of breath,” said Loyola University Medical Center pulmonologist Dr. Daniel Dilling.

Today, physicians rarely remove lungs due to infections, Dilling said. But last century, it was more common to remove part of a lung (lobectomy) or an entire lung (pneumonectomy) to treat tuberculosis or another lung condition caused by infection, bronchiectasis.

Removing a lung leaves a cavity in the chest, which gradually fills up with sterile, watery fluid that does not cause problems, Dilling said.

Having just one lung might affect the performance of an elite athlete, Dilling said. But otherwise, people who have just one lung “can live normal, productive lives without shortness of breath or other symptoms,” Dilling said.

However, if a person with one lung suffers a lung disease, he or she will not have any reserve capacity to compensate for loss of lung function caused by the disease, Dilling said.

Today, lungs are rarely removed to treat infections. Rather, prompt and aggressive treatment with antibiotics can treat tuberculosis or stop the development of bronchiectasis, Dilling said.

Dilling treats advanced and end-stage lung diseases and is a lung transplantation specialist. He is an associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the 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 one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.