Pulmonary Fibrosis Glossary | American Lung Association

This website uses cookies. By continuing you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Glossary

Find definitions of common pulmonary fibrosis terminology.


Acute Exacerbation
A sudden worsening of pulmonary fibrosis with no known cause.

Advance Directive
A legal document that tells the doctor and family what a person wants for future medical care should the person later become unable to make decisions.

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where oxygen enters and carbon dioxide leaves the bloodstream.

Back to top


A procedure that involves removing tissue or cells from the body and studying them under a microscope to diagnose disease.

Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)
A medical procedure in which an instrument (bronchoscope) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lungs. Fluid is then squirted into a small part of the lung and the fluid is collected. It is then examined under a microscope for signs of disease.

A lighted, flexible tube usually inserted through the nose or mouth to look at a person's airways and lungs.

Back to top


Diffusing Capacity
A measure of how well oxygen reaches the bloodstream from the air, which can be an indicator of lung health.

Back to top


Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV) and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)
FEV measures how much air a person can exhale during a forced breath. Forced vital capacity (FVC) is the total amount of air exhaled during the FEV test.

Back to top


GAP Model or GAP Risk Assessment System
A prediction tool that estimates prognosis in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It looks at factors such as gender, age, and physiology which includes lung function.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
A digestive disorder in which stomach acid travels up into the esophagus and throat. It can cause heartburn, indigestion and even injury to the esophagus. Sometimes it is painless. The acid can also cause throat irritation, post-nasal drip, hoarseness, chronic cough, chest congestion and lung inflammation. Some pulmonary fibrosis patients also have GERD.

Back to top


High-Resolution Computed Tomography Scan (HRCT)
A type of computed tomography (CT) that uses specific techniques to create a very detailed picture. It is commonly used to diagnose interstitial lung disease, including pulmonary fibrosis.

Back to top


Idiopathic Interstitial Pneumonia (IIP)
A type of scarring lung disease which affects the interstitium, the layer of the lung between the alveoli and the bloodstream.

Back to top


Oxygen Delivery Device
A piece of equipment that allows a person to get extra oxygen. Types of devices include oxygen concentrators, liquid oxygen and compressed oxygen.

Back to top


Palliative Care
Care aimed at making the patient more comfortable and improving quality of life. Hospice care always includes palliative care, but palliative care can be given at any stage of a disease. Palliative care is provided by a team of specialists including palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers. Massage therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, spiritual care advisors and others may also be part of the team.

Power of Attorney
A legal document authorizing someone to act on behalf of another person in legal, financial, and/or medical matters.

Back to top


Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS)
A type of lung surgery that typically involves one to four small incisions to access the inside of the chest. The surgeon uses a camera to visualize the lung and special instruments to perform the surgery. This can also be done with the help of a surgical robot. VATS can be used to perform many different procedures such as collecting tissue for a biopsy.

Back to top

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed February 5, 2018.

    Page Last Updated: March 13, 2018

    Sign up for updates

    Stay up to date on the latest news and information on the fight against pulmonary fibrosis.

    Red button with telephone
    Ask An Expert

    Questions about your lung health? Need help finding healthcare? Call 1-800-LUNGUSA.

    Get help
    Red button of two hand prints
    We need your generous support

    Make a difference by delivering research, education and advocacy to those impacted by lung disease.

    Button of turquoise LUNG FORCE swirl
    What is LUNG FORCE?

    LUNG FORCE unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together in the fight against lung cancer.

    Get involved
    Join the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air.
    Donate Now.


    Breathe Easy

    Give today and your tax-deductible gift will go TWICE as far for everyone who struggles to breathe.