Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) is a surgical procedure performed to remove diseased, emphysematous lung tissue. The surgery has been shown to help improve breathing ability, lung capacity and overall quality of life in selected patients.
Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) is a surgical procedure to remove diseased, emphysematous lung tissue. This procedure reduces the size of an over-inflated lung and allows the expansion (growth) of the remaining, often more functional lung.
Lung volume reduction surgery is used for some patients with severe emphysema, a common type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), disabling dyspnea (shortness of breath, difficulty breathing), and evidence of severe air trapping (air is “trapped” in the lung and cannot get out because of the emphysema or other lung disease).
Emphysema is an ongoing and progressive disease caused largely by cigarette smoking. The disease damages the lungs and makes breathing difficult.
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Lung volume reduction surgery has been shown to help improve breathing ability, lung capacity, and overall quality of life in selected patients. The effectiveness of this surgery depends on the location or extent of the diseased tissue, as well as the patient's exercise tolerance and ability to tolerate surgery.
Lung volume reduction surgery may be an appropriate treatment for select patients who meet established criteria. The results of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) study, first published in 2003, identified four sub-groups of patients who had different risks and benefits from LVRS:
Patients who fall into Group 1 are the best candidates for LVRS. Your thoracic surgeon and pulmonologist (doctor who specializes in treatment of the lung and respiratory tract) will discuss your treatment options to determine the best treatment for you.
Your physician can determine if LVRS is an appropriate treatment for you by performing the following tests:
The goal of LVRS is to remove up to 30 percent of each lung, making the lungs smaller and allowing them to function better. Lung volume reduction surgery can be performed by either a sternotomy or with a minimally invasive technique called thoracoscopy. Your surgeon will carefully evaluate you to determine the safest surgical approach to treat your medical condition.
Thoracoscopy can be used to operate on either one (unilateral) or both lungs (bilateral) and allows the surgeon to assess and resect (cut out) any part of the lungs.
The National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT)'s results confirm that LVRS is beneficial for patients who have predominant upper lobe disease and low exercise capacity, as compared with medical treatment.While effective for some patients, there are risks involved with lung reduction surgery, including:
Approaches are currently being investigated that use endobronchial valves to perform lung volume reduction without the need for incisions. These valves are placed in the inside of the lung through a bronchoscopy. During a bronchoscopy, a long, thin tube called a bronchoscope is passed through the nose or mouth and down the airway as far as necessary. A small camera sends the images to a television monitor.
You should expect to stay in the hospital for 5 to 10 days after lung reduction surgery. Pulmonary rehabilitation usually begins within the first 4 to 6 weeks after surgery, and is a very important part of your recovery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/17/2019.
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