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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic in Florida is the first medical center in the state to perform endoscopic lung volume reduction with endobronchial valves. This procedure, which recently was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), treats patients experiencing disorders associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including advanced emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Only a few medical centers nationwide offer this treatment.
“Patients with advanced emphysema have holes in their lungs that interfere with the availability and flow of oxygen into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide out of their body,” says Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy, M.D., a Mayo Clinic interventional pulmonologist. “This is one of the reasons why they have difficulty breathing. Another reason is that advanced emphysema causes lungs to increase in size, which interferes with the patient's ability to take deep breaths because their lungs are too large for their chest cavity. This is why lung volume reduction is necessary.”
The treatment involves shrinking the most damaged lobe of the lung to allow more space for the healthier part of the lung to function, leading to improved breathing, quality of life and exercise ability. It is minimally invasive, compared to surgical lung volume reduction procedures. That means there are fewer side effects, less pain, a shorter hospital stay and a lower mortality rate.
Using a small scope through the mouth to the lungs, physicians place tiny one-way endobronchial valves in the damaged, hyperinflated lobes of the patient's lungs. The valves allow trapped air to escape the affected lobe, while also preventing air from re-entering. Over time, the most damaged part of the lung will deflate, allowing the healther, rest of the lung more space to expand and function.
“This treatment does not cure emphysema,” Dr. Fernandez-Bussy says. “What it does is improves the patient's quality of life by improving their ability to breathe. They will be able to take bigger breaths and subsequently need less oxygen if they are currently on oxygen, or possibly come off oxygen altogether. Patients with advanced emphysema often also have other medical challenges, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity, which make them high-risk for surgical procedures. Subsequently, endoscopic lung volume reduction is a preferred, safer option.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 16 million Americans living with COPD, which is the fourth main cause of disability in the U.S. The death rate from COPD complications has doubled since 1970.
Mayo Clinic is one of the leading medical facilities in North America for the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary disorders. The center's pulmonologists are part of an integrated, comprehensive care team of highly specialized medical and surgical experts who work together using the latest technology and research to provide advanced treatment options for patients.
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