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Interventional Pulmonology

Olympus Spiration Valve traveling through airway

Comprehensive Subspecialty Care

VCU Medical Center is home to the first and most comprehensive interventional pulmonology (IP) subspecialty program. The physicians who lead the program are among a very small group in Virginia who are board certified in interventional pulmonology. Together, with an outstanding staff and consulting physicians, they provide the highest quality of care one can expect in the region.

The growing program uses advanced endoscopic techniques of both the airway and the pleural space for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The experienced team, led by Wes Shepherd, M.D., works in close collaboration with other specialists at VCU Health, to assure treatments are coordinated and communication with patients and referring physicians is clear.

  • The broadest array of diagnostic and therapeutic options in one setting
  • One of the highest procedure volumes of programs in the U.S.
  • One of only a few programs in the U.S. with three fellowship trained interventional pulmonologists
  • Uniquely tailored care plans for each patient
  • Easily arranged outpatient referrals, inpatient admissions and transfers
  • New patients seen within one week
  • Research protocols for patients to consider
  • Experienced physicians:
    • R. Wes Shepherd, MD: Virginia's first fellowship trained Interventional Pulmonologist
    • Danai Khemasuwan, MD: Fellowship trained Interventional Pulmonologist
    • Torib Uchel, MD: Fellowship trained Interventional Pulmonologist
    • Kelly Brooks-Pilling, RN: Interventional Pulmonary Coordinator

Accurate Diagnosis and Tailored Treatments

Individuals with IP issues require accurate diagnosis and tailored treatments. These patients are usually best cared for in experienced centers where all existing medical airway tools are available.

We offer the most comprehensive services and technologies in interventional pulmonology in Virginia. The IP program offers the widest range of options to treat benign and malignant lesions located in the tracheobronchial tree.

Due to the complex nature of their disease patients referred to the IP program are often managed in a multidisciplinary fashion, featuring collaboration with thoracic surgery, ENT and thoracic radiology.

For physicians and health care providers, a system is in place to make consults, referrals and transfers easy to accomplish, with new patients seen within a week of referral. Physicians should also feel confident when they refer to VCU Health because they know they are linking their patients with the best trained caregivers in interventional pulmonology.

Our Areas of Focus


Therapeutic Bronchoscopy:

  • Airway stenting (metallic, silicone, hybrid)
  • Balloon bronchoplasty
  • Brachytherapy
  • Cryotherapy (probe and spray cryotherapy)
  • Electrocautery and argon plasma coagulation
  • Microdebrider
  • Montgomery T-tube placement
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Rigid bronchoscopy
  • YAP laser
  • Stent removal
  • Foreign body removal
  • Broncho-pleural fistula treatment

Advanced Diagnostic Bronchoscopy:

  • Endobronchial ultrasound
  • Peripheral radial endobronchial ultrasound
  • Electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy
  • Robotic bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy Treatment of COPD and Asthma:

  • Endobronchial valve treatment with Spiration and Zephyr valves
  • Bronchial thermoplasty for treatment of asthma

Pleural Procedures:

  • Pleuroscopy or medical thoracoscopy
  • PleurX® catheters
  • Chest Tubes
  • Thoracentesis

Other Procedures:

  • Whole lung lavage
  • Percutaneous dilational tracheostomy
  • Transtracheal oxygen catheters
  • Fiducial marker placement into lung tumors for radiation therapy

Contact Us

To consult an interventional pulmonology specialist, or arrange a referral, call (804) 828-6396 or e-mail ray.shepherd@vcuhealth.org.

For outpatient referrals, please specify the referral as an “Interventional Pulmonology” patient. These patients will be seen within one week or sooner if necessary.

For inpatient transfers please call VCU Medical Center's Patient Transfer Center at (804) 828-2638 or call the main operator at (804) 828-0951 and ask for the pulmonologist on call.

Future of Interventional Pulmonology and Research

Numerous technologies are under investigations that hold promise of patient benefit. Our interventional pulmonology team maintains multiple active research studies for both complex airway disease as well as pleural disease.

Bronchial rheoplasty is a novel bronchoscopic treatment for patients with COPD who have chronic bronchitis. We are currently one of a small number of study sites in the United States for this novel treatment for patients with chronic cough and mucus production due to COPD. The system utilizes pulsed electrical energy to help treat the airways and decrease these symptoms.

VCU Health's interventional pulmonology program is uniquely positioned to offer an experienced airway team to implement these new therapies as they emerge.

Dedicated Interventional Pulmonary (1 year) Fellowship

  • One of only a limited number of dedicated Interventional Pulmonology Fellowship programs in the country.
  • One of the highest volume of IP procedures.
  • This year of training allows our graduates to enter the field prepared to manage a full spectrum of diseases and their associated interventional pulmonary procedures.
  • Our graduates are qualified to start or join an Interventional Pulmonology Program.
  • Graduates are experienced in the diverse array of procedures listed above

For more information on the Interventional Pulmonology Fellowship, contact Fellowship Director Danai Khemasuwan, M.D. at danai.khemasuwan@vcuhealth.org