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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

02/17/2009

Question:

my father is 73, and was diagnosed with fibrosis of the lung in 1997. He has deteriorated severly over the past two years. He cannot walk, is on 10L O2 at home, has had pnemonia 3 times in the last year, and has 20% lung capasity. His sat levels at the moment do not exceed 88-89%, and he is steroid dependant. He has been diagnosed with type 4 heart failure, and has had a heart attack 4 months ago. How much more will his body cope with? How little lung capacity can he survive on? He cannot be put on a ventilator, and does not wish to be recussitated. How long will he survive this?

Answer:

As pulmonary fibrosis progresses, the blood oxygen level generally falls lower and lower, requiring more and more supplemental oxygen. When 10 liters of oxygen is required, it indicates extremely advanced pulmonary fibrosis and often indicates that death may be close. In advanced stages of pulmonary fibrosis, hospice can be useful to help control symptoms such as severe shortness of breath.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University