About the Interstitial and Diffuse Lung Disease Center

The Children’s Interstitial and Diffuse Lung Disease (ChILD) Center is part of the Rare Lung Disease Center within the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Currently ranked No. 2 in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of Best Children's Hospitals, CHOP enables our program to bring together pediatric specialists from across the hospital to provide the most comprehensive care for children with interstitial and diffuse lung disease (ILD).

While individually rare, there are more than 200 distinct types of ILD in children, and thus collectively these disorders are responsible for a large portion of lung disease in children. As there is wide variability in disease severity, outcomes, and treatments, making the right diagnosis is often the most important step. These disorders can significantly impair a child’s daily activities and quality of life.

Diagnostic approach

Suspicion for ILD is critical to diagnosis, as the symptoms of ILD can overlap with more common diseases, and thus children often undergo extensive testing prior to referral to a ChILD Center.  Such testing may include laboratory studies, x-rays, cardiac echocardiogram, testing for gastroesophageal reflux and aspiration. Flexible bronchoscopy may also be performed to examine the airway for abnormalities in structure and test for infections. 

At CHOP, testing for ILD is individualized. The approach depends on many factors, including the age of the child, the severity of the symptoms, and whether other health concerns are present that might relate to the lung disease. To enhance our diagnostic ability, our center incorporates a broad array of testing including specialized chest CT scans, genetic testing, and immunology studies. While lung biopsy is needed in some patients, our program utilizes advanced bronchoscopy techniques for minimally invasive tissue sampling as an alternative to surgical lung biopsy in some cases.

At CHOP, each step in the diagnosis and treatment of this complex group of disorders is individualized based on the underlying problems and each patient’s unique condition.

Individualized treatment

Determining the type of ILD is a key step for individualized treatment. For some children supplemental oxygen and nutritional support are needed as they grow and lungs heal. Others may require individualized treatments focusing on immune abnormalities, inflammation, or fibrosis when present. There are many other important aspects of care that improve symptoms and quality of life. Our interdisciplinary team works with each patient and family to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Our goals

While providing state-of-the-art care, the center also strives to:

  • Refine diagnostic criteria in order to better recognize early signs of these rare diseases
  • Develop standards of practice that will improve care for all children with interstitial lung disease
  • Advance basic and clinical research to drive this evolving field forward and improve outcomes