Lung Volume Reduction Surgery

Henry Ford Hospital is one of only two centers in Michigan providing lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS). Our pulmonary specialists and thoracic surgery specialists work as a team to bring this advanced treatment to select patients with severe emphysema. Emphysema can cause air to become trapped in the lungs, making it difficult to exhale and causing the lungs to overinflate. Overinflated lungs make the chest wall bigger, and the normal mechanism of breathing is affected. LVRS helps to address this problem by removing 20-30 percent of the most diseased portion of the lung.

Benefits of LVRS

LVRS allows the healthier lung tissues to perform more effectively. The overinflated size of the lungs becomes reduced, and the diaphragm and other surrounding structures return to more normal positions in the body. Breathing becomes more efficient, and improvements in breathing mechanics and quality of life result.

Patient candidates for LVRS

Lung volume reduction surgery was studied in the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) which found that a select subset of emphysema patients benefited most from LVRS:

  • Diagnosis of severe or end-stage emphysema
  • Emphysema located in the upper portions of the lung
  • Patient at low risk for surgery
  • Patient completed pulmonary rehabilitation

The study suggested that this subset of patients who underwent LVRS may have improved ability to exercise, improved quality of life, and improved length of life.

Patient screening and preparation for LVRS

Patients are examined by a pulmonologist who will screen for overall appropriateness for lung volume reduction surgery. Pulmonary function tests, imaging studies of the lungs, and blood tests may be requested to determine if the patient is eligible for LVRS. If the initial screening is passed, the patient will be enrolled in pulmonary rehabilitation and will be referred to our surgeon to discuss the surgical procedure.

LVRS can be done by either:

  • Open-chest surgery in which the surgeon views the lungs directly, or
  • A minimally invasive video-assisted procedure that involves inserting a camera and surgical tools through a few small incisions.

Patients who qualify for surgery can expect a 5-10 day hospitalization.

Recovery after LVRS

After LVRS, patients will have 4 chest tubes to help the lungs re-expand. These tubes may remain in place for several days. Recovery may take up to 6 weeks in some patients. LVRS patients are required to continue the pulmonary rehabilitation program after surgery. Short- and long-term improvements in quality of life may be achieved. Some patients also may no longer require the use of oxygen.

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