Expert Care for Interstitial Lung Disease

What are Interstitial Lung Diseases?

Interstitial lung diseases (ILD) are a diverse group of respiratory disorders that vary in severity and affect adults of all ages. The major symptoms of these diseases are cough and shortness of breath. (These symptoms occur in more common respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD, and emphysema.) ILD can mimic recurrent pneumonia leading to a delay in diagnosis. Chest x-rays and CAT scans typically show abnormalities that involve more than one region of the lungs. Lung function testing, while normal in mild cases, may show reduced lung volumes and low oxygen levels. Because interstitial lung diseases vary with respect to the severity of symptoms and prognosis, being diagnosed with an ILD can be confusing and frightening to patients. We are here to help. 

Team Approach to Care at BIDMC

Physicians who do not care regularly for patients with interstitial lung disease can find the management of these diseases challenging. Recent clinical guidelines doubt the efficacy of conventional therapies for some of these diseases due to the results of several large clinical trials. Standard anti-inflammatory therapy, the historical approach to treatment, has therefore become controversial. More so than other groups of lung diseases, treatment decisions are often influenced by local practice patterns and might not reflect the most current developments.

Because patients with this group of diseases are not seen with great frequency by community practitioners, access to experts who routinely see patients with ILD is beneficial. The physicians seeing patients in BIDMC's Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic have years of both clinical and research experience. We place great importance on being availability to our patients and communicating well with referring or co-managing physicians. We believe that a team of experienced practitioners - including pulmonologists, pathologists, radiologists, thoracic surgeons, and physical therapists expert in pulmonary rehabilitation - allows us to provide the best care possible for individuals with ILD.

Getting Treatment at BIDMC

Depending upon the acuity of the referral, we can see an initial consultation promptly, within days if necessary. Initial visits involve lung function testing and an hour-long appointment with a physician. The evaluation continues at relevant conferences where challenging cases are reviewed and discussed in a group setting. In addition, we hold a bi-weekly meeting that brings together chest radiologists and pulmonary colleagues to discuss and debate questions of diagnosis and treatment on a case-by-case basis. Other members of the ILD Center provide input when appropriate, including rheumatology and thoracic surgery. All consultations are enhanced by this collaborative effort of dedicated health care providers with varied expertise.

Investigative Site for Major Drug Trials

BIDMC's Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine participates extensively in clinical trials pertaining to interstitial lung diseases. For idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, we have been an investigative site for major recent drug trials including such experimental therapies as interferon-gamma, pirfenidone and bosentan.

We are readily available to discuss with both physicians and patients which trials are open currently and which trials we anticipate opening in the future. We will also be launching independent research efforts focused upon gaining a better understanding of the cause of this class of diseases and identifying relevance therapeutic targets for future therapies.

Interstitial Lung Diseases

The conditions we evaluate and treat include: 

  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Lung fibrosis or inflammation related to rheumatological disease (rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, sjogren's syndrome, among others)
  • Lung fibrosis or inflammation caused by medications, chemotherapy or radiation
  • Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP)
  • Nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Eosinophilic pneumonia 

Meet Our Team

ILD Leadership

Bess Flashner, MD

Bess M. Flashner, MD

Director, Interstitial Lung Disease Center; Critical Care Medicine; Internal Medicine

Julia Munchel, MD

Julia Munchel, MD

Pulmonary Disease

ILD Physicians

Asha M. Anandaiah, MD

Director, Pulmonary Consult Service; Critical Care Medicine; Pulmonary Disease

Douglas M. Beach, MD

Pulmonary Disease

Sean Levy, MD

Medical Director, Pulmonary Function Lab Boston; Critical Care Medicine; Internal Medicine; Pulmonary Disease

Camille Petri

Camille Petri, MD

Pulmonary Disease

Learn more about Dr. Nuzzo

Erin A. Nuzzo, MD

Internal Medicine-Pulmonary Disease; Pulmonary Disease

Learn more about Dr. Synn

Andrew J. Synn, MD

Internal Medicine-Pulmonary Disease; Pulmonary Disease

Learn more about Dr. Peck

Tyler J. Peck, MD

Internal Medicine; Internal Medicine-Pulmonary Disease; Pulmonary Disease