Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)

Last updated: April 2019

As you may already know, lung volume reduction surgery is an operation that may be available for patients with severe emphysema where COPD has damaged lung tissue to the point where they’re unable to function as they should.

Over-inflated lungs

With COPD, air sometimes becomes trapped in your lungs and the affected lungs become over-inflated. LVRS helps to improve breathing by “untrapping” that air. It also assists those over-inflated lungs in fitting better in your chest cavity.

The are factors that determine the success of the surgery

But it is chest surgery and that does not make your body happy. So, it has risks. And, the effectiveness of the surgery depends on the location or extent of the damaged lung tissue, as well as one's ability to tolerate surgery.

My experience with LVRS

I chose to have LVRS performed in 2014 and had the procedure done at the New York/Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. It has one of the leading pulmonary practices in the United States.

I was apprehensive on the morning of my procedure but, the staff were wonderful and before I knew it, I was waking up in Intensive Care after the LVRS had been performed. It takes a few hours.

I felt no pain and apparently slept through much of the remainder of the day. Recovery was about a week’s stay at “Presbyterian” and before I knew it, I was home in my own bed. Another week at home and I returned to work.

I wish I could say that the effects were wondrous but, in 2014, I was still breathing fairly well so I don’t think I could notice what I might be able to notice if I had it performed at the present time. By no means am I discouraging anyone from exploring LVRS as an option for better breathing. Some of the members of the support group I joined later said the results were “miraculous.” I was very happy for them.

But in 2019, there may be fewer surgeons and medical centers performing the procedure as other, less invasive options emerge.

Endobronchial Valve System as a less invasive treatment

The “Endobronchial Valve System” is one. The valve is an implantable medical device—a small one-way valve that is implanted so that when you exhale, the air is able to flow through the valve and out of the lung.

But when the patient inhales, the valve closes and blocks air from entering that lung compartment. By doing this the valve helps a lung to empty itself of air that might otherwise be trapped, making breathing more difficult. It is one of the same objectives of LVRS.

But not all of the newer treatments are 100% effective either! Some of these newer non-invasive methods fail because lungs, already severely damaged by COPD, permit air to enter behind the valves which negate the good effects.

The good news in all of this is the fact that the medical community is constantly trying to find way to improve the quality of life for folks like us with COPD. With that knowledge, I sleep better at night.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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