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Treatments & Procedures

As one of the top respiratory programs in the country, we offer the most current, innovative options available for diagnosing and treating all lung, breathing and allergy conditions. View information about diagnostic tests and procedures as well as treatment options at Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute below.

Lung & Allergy Treatments

Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute is one of the best programs in the country for treating lung, breathing and allergy disorders. We offer a wide variety of options, from simple treatments, such as medications and prevention tips, to complex treatments, including lung transplantation and the latest cancer therapies.

View treatment options available at the Respiratory Institute below:

Allergy Treatments

For those diagnosed with an allergic or immunologic disorder, Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute offers a broad range of treatment options, from over-the-counter and prescription medications to immunotherapy (allergy shots) and prevention tips.

Allergy Medications
Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)
Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg)
Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Replacement Therapy
Bronchial Thermoplasty
Cancer and Tumor Treatments

The Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute's Lung Cancer program offers several treatment options for cancers and tumors of the lungs and chest. Treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Cryotherapy
    Cryotherapy uses an ultra-cold probe to freeze cancer cells and kill them. Treatments are sometimes an option for treating non-small-cell lung cancer classified as stage IIIB (spread to specific lymph nodes and probably not operable).
  • Laser therapy
    In laser therapy, a thin beam of light is used to kill cancer cells or benign growths in the airway. The treatments are palliative, meaning that they relieve blockages and restore airflow to improve breathing. They are not curative, and are not one of the primary treatments for lung cancer.
  • Multimodality therapy
    This type of treatment involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery.
  • Radiation therapy
  • High-dose brachytherapy
    Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy that involves the temporary placement of small radioactive seeds in the airway near a tumor constricting the airway.
  • Photodynamic therapy
    Photodynamic therapy uses ultraviolet light and a special chemical to kill cancer cells growing inside the airway.
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Targeted therapy
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DNAse Enzyme Therapy
Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg)
Lifestyle Changes
Lung Transplantation

Lung transplantation is a potential treatment for patients with severe emphysema, COPD, interstitial lung disease (e.g., idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis), pulmonary hypertension and cystic fibrosis that cannot be corrected with medication or other procedures.

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Mechanical Ventilation

A mechanical ventilator is a machine that forces oxygen into the lungs through a plastic tube inserted in the mouth, nose or a hole made in the trachea (windpipe). Ventilators are used when the lungs are too diseased to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide well enough to meet the body’s needs. Ventilation also is used when breathing naturally becomes impossible due to injuries to the lungs or chest, weakened chest muscles, airway obstruction, or alcohol or narcotic overdose. Ventilation also is used during general anesthesia.


Many different types of operation treatments are performed on patients with lung diseases. These include:

  • Diagnostic biopsy 
  • Surgical removal of a lung or lobe
  • Lung volume reduction surgery
    Lung volume reduction surgery is an exciting new treatment for patients whose lungs are damaged from advanced emphysema. In this surgery, a portion of the diseased lungs is removed to allow more room for the lungs to expand and contract and to relieve pressure on the diaphragm. As a result, the patient can take in more air with every breath.
  • Lung transplantation
  • Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy
    This is a special surgical procedure designed to remove blood clots blocking circulation to the lungs and causing chronic pulmonary hypertension. Whenever possible, pulmonary thromboendarterectomy is performed instead of lung transplantation for this disease.

Whenever possible, minimally invasive surgery is performed. After minimally invasive treatments, patients recover more quickly and need less pain medication.

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Therapeutic Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy has many therapeutic uses, such as:

  • removing objects or mucus blocking the airway
  • destroying growths in the airway
  • placing stents to open airway obstructions

One of the newest methods for opening large airway obstructions using bronchoscopy is self-expandable metallic stents (SEMS). Cleveland Clinic pulmonologists have extensive experience placing SEMS. Treatment is safe, can be performed in a procedure room without general anesthesia, and provides immediate relief of symptoms in 95 percent of patients. SEMS are not curative, in that they do not change the disease process. These treatments do, however, make breathing easier.

Diagnostic Tests & Procedures

Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute physicians offer a variety of medical tests to diagnose lung, breathing and allergy conditions. Typically, the first step in the diagnosis process is a physical examination and a complete medical history. Based on your history and symptoms, our Respiratory Institute doctors may order additional medical tests to make a diagnosis.

Allergy Tests
Biopsy Tests

Bronchoscopy is the gold standard test for seeing inside the airway. It involves passing a flexible tube called a bronchoscope through the nose or mouth, past the vocal chords and down the airway. A small camera conveys the images to a television monitor.

The test can be performed to:

  • diagnose lung diseases
  • aid in allergy treatments
  • locate the source of a problem by visualizing the throat, larynx, trachea and lungs
  • collect tissue samples for biopsies
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Imaging Tests
Laboratory Tests
Lung Function Tests

Lung function tests, also known as pulmonary function tests, measure how well your lungs work. PFTs include the following tests:

  • Spirometry
    Spirometry measures the amount of air a patient can breathe in and out in a maximum breath and how fast this can be done.
  • Lung volume measurement
    Lung volume measurement shows how much air remains in the lung after exhaling.
  • Diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide
    Diffusing capacity reveals the amount of lung tissue damage in diseases such as emphysema.
  • Arterial blood gas analysis
    This is a common test that measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. The results reveal whether adequate amounts of oxygen are reaching the blood and whether carbon dioxide is being expelled. A blood sample is taken from an artery in the arm.
  • Pulse oximetry
    This noninvasive test uses a small cap placed on the earlobe or finger to measure blood oxygen levels.
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing
    This test, which is similar to a cardiac exercise test, reveals how well the body does during exercise. It measures the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and reveals how well the lungs are working. To perform the test, the patient will pedal a stationary bicycle. The results can help determine if a problem is due to lung or cardiovascular disease.
  • Respiratory muscle function tests
    These tests measure the strength of the muscles supporting the breathing apparatus. It mainly is used to determine whether patients are strong enough to breathe on their own if taken off a ventilator.
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Physical Examination
Sleep Study
Skin Tests

A thoracentesis is used for the removal of pleural fluid for diagnostic or treatment purposes.

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Reviewed: 05/11