COPD is a debilitating and progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. If you’re living with COPD, you know how difficult it can be to get through each day. You may feel short of breath, have a chronic cough, or experience chest tightness. Integra Health offers endoscopic lung volume reduction surgery as an effective treatment for severe COPD. This minimally invasive surgery can help improve your quality of life by reducing the amount of diseased tissue in your lungs
When your lungs are damaged by severe COPD, lung volume reduction surgery can help you breathe easier. The surgery is intended to remove the diseased area of the lung, so that the remaining lung can function more efficiently, and that you can breathe more easily and live a better life.
LVRS is not recommended for all patients with COPD. Successful candidates tend to be those who:
LVRS patients need to be evaluated by a pulmonologist and thoracic surgeon before undergoing the procedure. Preoperative testing includes pulmonary function tests, six-minute walk tests, arterial blood gas tests, CT scans of the lungs, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, and cardiopulmonary exercise tests (exercise tests performed on a treadmill to assess cardiac and pulmonary functions).
Surgery is performed under general anesthesia, which means the patient is completely asleep while hooked up to a breathing machine. This surgery can be performed using several different techniques. During a median sternotomy, the surgeon makes an incision directly above the sternum in order to reach the lungs. An alternative approach is video-assisted thoracoscopy, where the surgeon makes multiple small incisions on both sides of the chest and uses a video camera and surgical instruments to perform the surgery. A thoracotomy is another procedure that involves making an incision between the ribs and separating the ribs to access the lungs.
Complications from these procedures are air leaks, where air escapes from the lung into the chest cavity. You’ll need a chest tube to drain air from your body, and most air leaks heal within a week, but some patients may need a second surgery to repair them. You could also need a breathing machine, get pneumonia, or get blood clots. Less common complications are wound infection, heart attack and irregular heartbeat.