Pediatric Pulmonology

Pediatric Pulmonology evaluates and treats infants and children with a variety of lung problems in both a hospital and office setting. We place a great deal of emphasis on “whole child” care through a system based on patient and family-centered care.

Services & Treatment


Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and causes trouble breathing as a result of swollen and narrowed airways. Asthma is typically triggered by respiratory infections, allergies, exercise, or other triggers. We treat asthma with a variety of inhaled and oral medicines and evaluate patients with the help of pulmonary function testing.

Chest wall deformities

Pectus carinatum is a condition that causes the chest to a have a “bowed out” or “pigeon chest” appearance. The condition, which affects one out of every 500 children, is caused by an overgrowth of the costal cartilages which connect the ribs to the sternum. Pectus carinatum affects more boys than girls and usually begins during early puberty (10-13 years old). Treatment of pectus carinatum is dependent upon the severity of the defect and your child’s symptoms. In most cases, surgery is not indicated.

Pectus excavatum is a congenital chest wall deformity that is caused by an overgrowth of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. This overgrowth causes a depression of the sternum and the chest has a “sunken in” or “funnel chest” appearance. The condition affects more boys than girls. It is often present at birth but becomes more noticeable during times of rapid growth, such as puberty. The treatment of pectus excavatum is dependent upon the severity of the defect and your child’s symptoms. In most cases, surgery is not indicated. We may recommend observation for mild to moderate cases and surgery for more severe or complex cases. Our division will work closely with the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–in the Upstate Pediatric Surgery if surgery is indicated or further evaluation is necessary.

Learn more about the pectus program offered through Pediatric Surgery, part of Children’s Hospital.

Chronic lung disease related to prematurity

We follow many infants and toddlers who have chronic lung problems related to past prematurity and the effects that has on the future development of their lungs.

Chronic or recurrent aspiration lung disease

Congenital lung abnormalities

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited lung disease that causes thick secretions to form in the lungs and digestive system that leads to recurrent infections and potential problems with growth.

Our division is accredited by the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and we are an accredited CORE CF Center. As a CORE CF Center, we provide multidisciplinary care for the child and family.

Our clinical services cover a broad range to include evaluation and diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis, as well as treatment with focuses on…

  • The promotion of normal growth and development
  • The maintenance of lung health by slowing the progression of Cystic Fibrosis
  • Education to prevent complications and treatment of complications should they arise
  • Support of our patients and families as they adjust their lives to embrace all aspects of CF disease
  • Education of the family and our surrounding community to promote a positive experience for our patients in all aspects of their daily living

The Cystic Fibrosis Center of Children’s Hospital has multiple subspecialists who work together to provide multidisciplinary care for pediatric Cystic Fibrosis patients. This interdisciplinary team is the heart of our center and meets to evaluate the clinical, educational and psychosocial needs of our families and their children.

Our primary team consists of pediatric pulmonologists, advanced practice nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians, social workers and child life therapists. Additional expertise from pediatric gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, genetic counselors, pharmacologists, and physical therapists are available.

Exercise intolerance and generalized shortness of breath

When children have shortness of breath, the lungs may not always be the culprit. Although lung diseases are always at the forefront of a medical workup, many times there are other issues that need addressing to help treat these children.

Vocal cord dysfunction is an extremely common and sometimes frightening process that occurs in children. This can sometimes be misdiagnosed as severe asthma and can present as recurrent and abrupt shortness of breath that is resistant to any medication. Children manifest symptoms of stress differently than adults and can present with sighing, chronic coughing, throat clearing, and generalized shortness of breath.

Providers at our center are skilled at diagnosing the medically treatable lung diseases such as asthma and also look into other causes that may involve non-medical treatment. Our evaluations include lung function testing, both at rest and, sometimes, after exercising. Regardless of the diagnosis, the goal is always the same: for every child to be able to live a life free of chronic symptoms and to be able to be as active as they would like to be.

We also welcome high-performing athletes who may have aspirations of playing a sport in high school and college. Many times we can help optimize lung function in kids who don’t realize they are competing with a disadvantage.

Neuromuscular disease

Children with Neuromuscular weakness, including Muscular Dystrophy & Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a broad term that describes a genetic (inherited) disorder of the muscles. Muscular dystrophy causes the muscles in the body to become very weak. The muscles break down and are replaced with fatty deposits over time. The most common forms of muscular dystrophy are Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy. The two forms are very similar, but Becker muscular dystrophy is less severe than DMD. Girls are rarely affected by either of these two forms of muscular dystrophy.

Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disease that affects the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in muscle wasting and weakness. Pediatric pulmonology works closely with the Division of Pediatric Neurology and Sleep Medicine in the treatment of children with these disorders.

Our team works closely with Pediatric Neurology, also part of Children’s Hospital. To learn more about Pediatric Neurology at Children’s Hospital, click here.

Recurrent pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or chemical irritants. It is a serious infection or inflammation in which the air sacs fill with pus and other liquid. Diagnosis is usually made based on the season and the extent of the illness. Based on these factors, your doctor may diagnose simply on a thorough history and physical examination. We work closely with your primary care provider to diagnose and find the best treatment options.

Stridor and noisy breathing in infants

Our providers are experts in assessing breathing during infancy. Many infants have noisy or squeaky breathing and our goal is to provide an accurate diagnosis of what many times is a relatively short-lived and nonthreatening process.

If we feel a more detailed examination is needed, we have the ability to schedule a bronchoscopy with full sedation at Children’s Hospital. We also work closely with pediatric ENT, who are experts in assessing the anatomy of the upper airway as well as being able to offer surgical correction if need be. We evaluate many infants with noisy breathing from a variety of problems including floppy airways, infections, wheezing, and other potential lung problems.

Ventilator-dependent children

We have a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, and respiratory therapists who are comfortable in caring for children with tracheostomies and require mechanical ventilation at home. Many of these children are medically complex and we do our best to have a team approach to care, which many times includes additional respiratory therapists from Equipped for Life, the Prisma Health home health company that services the ventilators and related equipment.

For more information on how to take care of a child with a tracheostomy, download our guide.

Procedures & Other Services

Airway endoscopy

Our physicians perform flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy which is a procedure to examine the breathing tubes of the lungs with a small scope and camera to look for problems that may be causing respiratory symptoms. This is done with state of the art equipment in a carefully monitored setting. This can be performed safely in the smallest infants to our oldest patients.

Pulmonary function testing & exercise testing

Pulmonary function testing is used in the office to measure the symptoms of asthma and many other lung problems. Sometimes we do this with exercise to evaluate breathing problems that occur.

Patient Guides

Pediatric Cancer Survivorship Clinic

Pulmonology has become an active part in this wonderful monthly clinic run by the Pediatric Hematology & Oncology group at Children’s Hospital. Our goal is to help screen this brave group of kids that have battled cancer for any long-term effects of cancer medication and to make sure their lungs are functioning at their best while in remission.

Sickle Cell Clinic

Pediatric Pulmonology collaborates with Pediatric Hematology to provide evaluation and treatment of lung problems that are common in children and adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease. The Physicians and Nurse Practitioners of Pediatric Pulmonology aggressively manage asthma and other respiratory problems that impact the quality of life and survival of children and adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease.