Dr. Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy

    Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy, M.D.

    Discovery comes to those who seek it.

    Minimally invasive, innovative treatments for lung disease

    Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy, M.D.

    Director of Interventional Pulmonology

    Jacksonville, Florida

    I pay a lot of attention to beauty, art, and nature. I can think about a song, something that I read last night in a book. I'm not just a scientist, but a human being. When we inhale, we bring in life. I feel the urge to restore the natural balance to cure people. We are able to navigate inside the lungs to wherever we want to go. So I think that I'm good at bringing a dream, an idea into action. I know we were able to get that patient better because there is usually a smile. As long as I have sense of purpose and hope I'm able to do what I was not able to do before.

    I love that we can help improve someone’s quality of life.

    A spirit of discovery. A boundless imagination. And a zest for life that can be felt the moment you meet him. Dr. Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy is a passionate explorer, curious by nature. Dedicated to doing more for his patients with lung disease by continuously searching for what’s next.

    It was his inventive nature that led him to Mayo Clinic years ago. A place he believes is like no other because of how they’re able to provide the best possible care of today, while constantly innovating to create the health care of tomorrow.

    Today, he leads the Interventional Pulmonology Program at Mayo Clinic in Florida, where he and his colleagues are combining cutting-edge technology with the latest medical knowledge to help people with lung cancer, COPD, chronic bronchitis, asthma, tracheobronchomalacia, and other lung issues.  

    "Breathing is life. There are so many issues related to breathing that can be life-threatening or make life miserable,” says Dr. Fernandez-Bussy. “I love that we can help improve someone’s quality of life."

    And he’s doing just that, in many innovative ways.

    One of them is robotic bronchoscopy, a unique procedure that bridges a gap between surgery and clinical practices. In this procedure, he and his colleagues can navigate previously inaccessible areas of the lung. While exploring the lungs, they can locate any suspicious spots on a person’s lungs and create a virtual path, of which they follow inside the patient’s airway to reach the spot and perform a biopsy (even on the tiniest of nodule). And all as an outpatient procedure.

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    This minimally invasive method means that lung cancer, a leading cause of death in the U.S., can be diagnosed and treated much earlier than ever before. A true breakthrough that is changing the course of more people’s lives.

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    Dr. Fernandez-Bussy and his colleagues are also working on new advances to diagnose and treat tracheobronchomalacia, or expiratory central airway collapse (ECAC), where the trachea and the two main branches of the airway are weak or “floppy,” closing a person’s airway by nearly 90%. Tracheobronchomalacia is commonly confused with other conditions where people experience shortness of breath and chronic cough.

    "Often the patient has been treated with inhalers or steroids for asthma for a long time, but the symptoms have not improved,” Dr. Fernandez-Bussy says. “Then they come to Mayo Clinic and their problem is accurately diagnosed."

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    Another condition he and his colleagues treat, where patients often depend on inhalers and even supplemental oxygen to survive, is COPD. Many patients will reach a point where they find themselves constantly short of breath. Traditionally, the next step might be a lung transplant. To delay or avoid that step altogether, Dr. Fernandez-Bussy’s interventional pulmonology team uses bronchoscopy to remove destroyed areas of the lungs, leaving the rest of the healthy lung with more space to function.

    "The patient feels an improvement in their breathing almost immediately and can continue life without the recovery pains of major surgery," Dr. Fernandez-Bussy says.

    For patients with advanced emphysema, Dr. Fernandez-Bussy collaborates with colleagues in Mayo Clinic’s Thoracic Surgery Department to offer lung volume reduction surgery. This surgical option removes damaged lung tissue, allowing the remaining tissue to function better. The results improve exercise capacity, lung function, and overall quality of life.

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    I believe in team. I believe in a community. And I think that talent is all around the world. And I like to connect with people. People from all over with different backgrounds and different ideas.”

    Always evolving and seeking out new inspiration, Dr. Fernandez-Bussy regularly looks outside his immediate sphere of influence, interacting with physicians from other countries and attending international conferences.

    "I believe in team. I believe in a community. And I think that talent is all around the world. And I like to connect with people. People from all over with different backgrounds and different ideas," he says.

    By having these conversations, and introducing physicians to new technologies, he has helped save lives around the globe. "I'm originally from Argentina, so my background and what I lived when I was a child is completely different than somebody from India, from the Middle East or from Europe. So, all those are just fantastic ingredients for a recipe that will only be successful."

    Above all else, the best part of these interactions and being able to observe new approaches from his international peers is that it sparks his own creativity to dream bigger and discover new ways to help more patients. "That’s how we measure success, with the smile of a patient. And maybe it's not a big smile because different patients, different personalities, but when we truly make a difference, you are able to tell in their face. So, yes, we like to think that we help them in their dream."

    Dr. Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy

    Dr. Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy is the Director of Interventional Pulmonology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and specializes in minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic thoracic procedures. He and his team use the newest medical technology, including robotics, to give hope to patients with severe lung conditions such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, tracheobronchomalacia, and other lung disorders.

    Learn more Read Dr. Bussy's full biography.
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    Robotic bronchoscopy (RAB)

    This breakthrough technique allows health care professionals to see and biopsy parts of the lung that were previously inaccessible.

    Learn more about Robotic bronchoscopy (RAB)
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    Lung Cancer Program

    If you have lung cancer, mesothelioma, thymoma or another cancer within the lungs or chest, you'll find exactly the care you need at Mayo Clinic. 

    Learn more about Lung Cancer Program
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    Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM)

    Medical Professionals: Expiratory central airway collapse is challenging to identify and underdiagnosed.

    Learn more about Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM)

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