Lung volume reduction surgery is used to improve breathing in some people with severe emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
During surgery, small wedges of damaged lung tissue are removed to allow the remaining tissue to function better. After surgery, people often have less shortness of breath, have better quality of life and are better able to exercise.
Candidates for Lung Volume Reduction Surgery
LVRS is not a recommended treatment for all patients with COPD. The best candidates for successful surgery tend to be those who:
- Have severe lung damage (emphysema), particularly in the upper part of the lung
- Are younger than 75 to 80 years old
- Have not smoked for at least six months
- Are not able to exercise well after completing pulmonary rehabilitation
Lung volume reduction surgery can be performed by either a sternotomy or with a minimally invasive technique called thoracoscopy
- Sternotomy : The median sternotomy involves cutting through the breastbone to open the chest. Both lungs (a bilateral approach) are reduced at the same time in this procedure.
- Thoracoscopy : A minimally-invasive technique, the thoracoscopy requires 3 to 5 small incisions made on both sides of the chest, between the ribs. A videoscope is inserted through one of the incisions to allow the surgeon to see the lungs. A stapler and grasper are inserted in the other incisions and are used to remove the most damaged areas of the lung. The stapler is used to reseal the remaining lung
Recovery after lung reduction surgery
The patient is expected 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.