By Dr. Amar Nath Shaw, Cardiothoracic Vascular Surgery,
Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which develops when the air sacs of the lungs are damaged. Over time these air sacs get ruptured. Normally lungs are composed of many small holes. But when this happens, wider air spaces develop, but the surface area of the lungs become smaller. So the amount of oxygen that enters our body gets reduced. This disorder is often accompanied by bronchitis whereby the respiratory tubes become inflamed. Therefore, one of the common symptoms of emphysema is persistent coughing.
What is lung volume reduction surgery?
Lung volume reduction surgery is one of the treatment options to treat emphysema. It is attempted on people who have severe emphysema. The aim of this surgery is to improve the respiration of these people. This surgery is performed to remove the damaged lung tissue so that the remaining tissues function properly. After the surgery the symptoms of emphysema are reduced and the patient can lead a happier and healthier life.
The surgery is performed by a cardiac or a thoracic surgeon. During the surgery 20 to 30 percent of each lung containing the damaged tissue is removed. The primary objective of the surgery is to retain the functions of the remaining tissues. The quality of the diaphragm improves post-surgery. It expands and contracts more efficiently and allows fresh oxygen to enter the body. After surgery the patient can go back to leading a normal life. He/she can even perform exercises regularly.
Tests before the surgery
Prior to surgery, the doctor runs certain tests on the patient to see whether he/she is qualified to undergo surgery. These include lungs and heart test where the functions of these organs are evaluated. To see the location of the emphysema, the doctor can even run a CT (computerized tomography) scan. Exercise tests serve two purposes. It is an evaluation that determines both the quotient of damage done to the lungs and the functional properties that the lungs still retain.
Who can benefit from this surgery?
In most cases this interventional method improves the quality of life. However, lung volume reduction surgery proves ineffective in people who are born with emphysema. This happens due to the deficiency of the protein, Alpha-1 antitrypsin. These people get better result from a lungs transplant surgery.