Medical science is getting better every day. Certain things that we did not even imagine in past have developed and even today it is very difficult to understand certain developments. But certain things which are easy to understand and difficult to do are also there. In the treatment of cancer now a days blood cells called Lymphocytes are taken out from a cancer patient and are 'programmed '(??) and then multiplied and then injected in the patient to take care of cancer. This process is easy to understand . But very difficult to actually know as to what is being done . What does a programming of a cell means ?But it is easy to explain. The new treatments for COPD are also such treatments where it is easy to understand and easy to explain. That brings me to the story for today.
I have seen this patient for 3-4 years and she had episodes of respiratory infection when I saw her for the first time . She is in her early seventies and she never smoked . She had cough and then I saw her . The chest X-ray was normal and treated her with antibiotics and the steroids .She did OK and I did do breathing test and that came as normal . But she had cough and so she was started on treatment for asthma . She did OK and then she weaned herself of the medicines for asthma . She would get periodic episodes of cough and then she would see me and I would treat her with steroids and inhalers and she would linger for few days with persistent cough and then would get better .
This continued and then the cough got worse and then in spite of doing steroids and antibiotics and inhalers , she would still have bad coughing spells . I did do further work up and we did CT scan and that was normal. I also did measurement of immunoglobulin - These are proteins - globulins that are important for immunity and they prevent the recurrent infection. She did have low immunoglobulin. So I wanted to give her replacement for the immune globulin . But her hematologist did not want to do that. In any case she continued to have cough and she was admitted few times for the control of her symptoms. Then I decided to do the bronchoscopy. When I did the bronchoscopy ,I found out that she had problem with trachea and major bronchial tubes . Normally the trachea has cartilages and that gives trachea the support and it does not collapse. Theses cartilages are semicircular and also extend to main bronchi . That act like scaffolding . But her trachea would collapse when she would exhale or cough and that was causing constant cough. So I told her that we need someone to do a stent and see if that would work out.. She was seen by interventional lung specialist. But he felt that she would need surgery and stents may not be enough. So I have to send her to Mayo clinic .
So such a stent placement was not there 10 years ago and even when they did do it 5 years ago it was in the infancy and also no one would have thought of doing surgery on trachea in an adult patient few years ago . I still feel that the cause of this is lack of immune globulin leading to recurrent respiratory infections and damage that was caused by persistent inflammation. I feel that she would need replacement for that in future . Stay tune .