What is Bullae of Lung & How is it Treated?
What is Bullae of Lung?
Bullae of Lung also known by the name of Giant Bulla is a common pathological condition found in the lungs which is usually caused by emphysema. Bullae of Lung develops when the emphysema damages the lungs to an extent that air pockets develop.
These air pockets tend to grow and put pressure on the lungs since it starts occupying the space within the chest cavity resulting in symptoms of chest soreness, pressure in the chest, and in some cases problems breathing.
If Bullae of Lung ruptures then it may lead to a serious complication called pneumothorax. There may be severe lung dysfunction as a result of Bullae of Lung.
What are the Causes of Bullae of Lungs?
As stated, emphysema is the major cause of Bullae of Lung. Emphysema is a progressive medical condition in which there is irritation of the alveoli or the air sacs present in the lungs which results in shortness of breath among other symptoms. Apart from emphysema there are certain other causes of Bullae of Lung or Giant Bulla. These causes are:
- Any damage or injury to the lung like in a motor vehicle crash or an assault or gunshot wound to the chest wall area.
- Tuberculosis is yet another cause of Bullae of Lung
- Lung tumors also tend to cause Bullae of Lung
- Localized scar tissue after a procedure to the lungs may also lead to the development of Bullae of Lung.
- Bronchial edema is another common cause of Bullae of Lung.
What are the Symptoms of Bullae of Lungs?
Since Bullae of Lung keeps on growing it produces various signs and symptoms which include:
- Soreness in the chest area
- Problems with inspiration or taking in air
- Chest pressure
- Lethargy and fatigue due to lack of adequate oxygen reaching the lungs as a result of not being able to take in oxygen due to Bullae of Lung
- Always feeling bloated
- Cyanosis due to lack of adequate oxygen reaching the parts of the body to adequately function
- Pain in the upper portion of the body
- Dry cough
- Problems breathing.
How is Bullae of Lung Diagnosed?
Radiological tests in the form of an x-ray or advanced imaging in the form of CT or MRI scan of the chest is good enough to diagnose Bullae of Lung. Once Bullae of Lung is identified, in order to look for more information on the type of the bulla and the extent to which the lung has been damaged the physician may go for inserting a needle in the bulla and analyzing the cells and fluid within the bulla. A biopsy may also be performed to look at the status of the Bullae of Lung.
How is Bullae of Lung Treated?
For almost all of the cases of Bullae of Lung, the patient is treated with a surgical procedure called bullectomy in which the Bullae of Lung is completely removed. Before embarking on the removal of the Bullae of Lung, the patient will first be categorized based on the nature and size of the Bullae of Lung or Giant Bulla into one of the four categories.
In the first category, patients tend to have a single bulla but have normal lung function. In the second category, there are multiple Bullae of Lung but the lung function is not impaired. In the third category, there are multiple bullae with the lung function being impaired by the underlying emphysema. In the fourth category, there are multiple bullae and the function of the lung is impaired by other medical conditions.
Patients who fall in the first two categories are considered to be ideal candidates for bullectomy and have a 100% chance of complete recovery from the symptoms of Bullae of Lung and complete restoration of the lung function.
Unfortunately, for people falling in the third and fourth category do not have the same outcome and in cases where there is massive destruction of the lungs due to emphysema or other medical conditions then the chances of complete recovery is very minimal and the patient ultimately is advised to undergo lung transplantation for treatment of Bullae of Lung or Giant Bulla.