Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) prevents sufficient amounts of oxygen from moving through the lungs and into the bloodstream, which creates a critical lack of oxygen in the body's organs. A potentially life-threatening condition, ARDS is the result of a buildup of fluids in the lung's alveoli, or tiny air sacs. This excess fluid is what prevents oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. The fluid buildup also may weigh down or stiffen the lungs, preventing them from expanding properly. The inability of the lungs to expand fully, combined with the lack of oxygen flow, makes it extremely difficult to breathe, even when assisted by a breathing machine or oxygen tank.

The failure of the kidneys, liver, or other organs often occurs in conjunction with ARDS. The condition may be caused by severe trauma or injury to the lungs; conditions such as pneumonia, septic shock, aspiration (when vomit is breathed into the lungs); or complications from a lung transplant. Acute alcoholism and a history of heavy smoking are additional risk factors. A similar condition, neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, occurs in infants whose lungs have not fully developed. In such cases there is a lack of surfactant, the substance that keeps the lungs air sacs from deflating. The condition in infants also can be life-threatening, but unlike with ARDS, treatments are available that improve the long-term outlook.


UAB Pulmonary Services is ranked among the best programs of its kind in the nation, and our physicians are consistently listed among the Best Doctors in America for respiratory disease. We serve patients at our main campus and also at our convenient neighborhood clinics in Hoover and Gardendale.

Most UAB Pulmonary Services doctors are triple-board-certified in internal medicine, critical care, and pulmonary medicine. They serve on national boards and specialty organizations, speak at national conferences, publish in scientific and medical journals, and conduct research that is recognized nationally and internationally. Our physicians are continually seeking new ways to treat lung disease and improve the care for patients.








Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts in the bone. There are several types of bone cancer, but the most common is called osteosarcoma. It usually affects patients under 30 but can occur at any age. Osteosarcoma can begin in any bone, but it is more often seen in the longer bones of the arms and legs, or the pelvic bones. Osteosarcoma normally is treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. There are other types of bone cancers, like chondrosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma. Other cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma start in the bone marrow but are referred to as blood cell cancers.

Other cancerous masses, known as soft tissue sarcomas, can develop in the soft tissue of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, joints, and tissues that connect the body together. There are many types of soft tissue sarcomas, but they are rare. They tend to occur in the arms, legs, chest, and abdomen but can develop in any area of the body. Soft tissue sarcomas are most common in patients age 30-70, though certain types can affect younger adults and even children. They usually are treated with a combination of surgery and radiation, and sometimes chemotherapy. Cancer that has spread (metastasized) from other parts of the body to the bone usually is treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.

Tumors in the musculoskeletal system are much more likely to be benign (non-cancerous). Primary bone cancer, or cancer that begins within a bone, is rare. It is more common for a tumor to spread from another area of the body to the musculoskeletal system.


UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials