Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)

Henry Ford Health System is one of only two centers in Michigan that provide lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS). Our pulmonary (lung) specialists and thoracic surgery specialists work as a team to bring this advanced treatment to select patients with severe emphysema. Emphysema is a type of lung disease that makes it hard to breathe, because it destroys lung tissue.

Why is lung volume reduction surgery performed?

LVRS may be an option to help restore your breathing capacity if you have emphysema. Emphysema can cause air to become trapped in the lungs. When this happens, it is difficult to exhale, and the lungs may overinflate. Overinflated lungs make the chest wall bigger. In time, this enlargement affects breathing.

LVRS relieves this issue by removing 20 to 30 percent of the most diseased portion of the lung. LVRS may remove part of one or both lungs.

Benefits of lung volume reduction surgery

After recovery from LVRS, you’ll be able to breathe more easily and comfortably. Some people may no longer require the use of oxygen.

Results from LVRS procedures performed over the past 15 years show other benefits, including:

  •  Better quality of life
  • More ability to exercise
  •  Longer life
  • Healthier lungs that are no longer overinflated
  • Diaphragm and other surrounding structures returning to more normal positions in the body
  • More efficient breathing
  • Fewer lung infections

Who is a candidate for lung volume reduction surgery?

Candidates for LVRS are people with severe or end-stage emphysema. A major study, the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT), found that LVRS has specific benefits for people with emphysema in the upper part of the lungs.

To qualify for LVRS, you must have completed or soon complete pulmonary rehabilitation. You also must be healthy enough that surgery is an option for you.

What should I expect before having lung reduction?

First, a pulmonologist will screen you to determine if LVRS might be appropriate for you. If you are a good candidate, doctors will order some initial tests to confirm that you are eligible. These may include:

If you pass the initial screening, we will enroll you in pulmonary rehabilitation. This program helps strengthen your lungs and improve your breathing capacity. If you smoke, you’ll need to quit. Learn about our tobacco treatment services.

You will meet with a surgeon to discuss the lung reduction procedure. We perform two types of LVRS. Your doctor will discuss the best approach for your situation. You might have:

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

Recovery after LVRS

After LVRS, most people stay in the hospital for five to 10 days. During this time, you will have four chest tubes inserted through the skin to help your lungs re-expand. These tubes may remain in place for several days.

Recovery may take up to 12 weeks. You will need to continue the pulmonary rehabilitation program after surgery. 

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