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Lung diseases

Lung Bullae without Emphysema

01/25/2011

Question:

My dad - a smoker - has lung bullae, but his lung function results were really good (apart from kroch factor that`s a little on the low side). So my question is: is it possible to have lung bullae without emphysema? And how dangerous are those bullae?

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. The lung bullae are likely from damage to the lungs from cigarette smoking. People who don't smoke can develop bullous lung disease, but the most likely cause in a smoker is smoking damage. A decreased DLCO (transfer factor/kroch factor) can occur with the loss of lung tissue in bullous disease. Lung bullae can be present without radiographic signs of emphysema in some patients. The major risk from bullae is that they may rupture. This results in a pneumothorax which is air outside of the lung that causes the lung to collapse. An evaluation by a lung specialist can assist in answering your specific question about this risk in your dad.

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Response by:

Michael E Ezzie, MD Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University