OBJECTIVE: To review the literature on the surgical treatment of emphysema and to present preliminary results from a pilot study of lung volume reduction (LVR) surgery.
DESIGN: Case series of consecutive patients referred for LVR surgery. Outcomes were quality of life, pulmonary function and exercise capacity.
SETTING: Two university-affiliated hospitals in Ontario.
POPULATION STUDIED: Patients between the ages of 40 and 75 years with emphysema who had severe airflow limitation, hyperinflation of the lungs and impaired quality of life.
INTERVENTION: Bilateral reductions with multiple wedge resections of the lung using a linear stapling device with bovine pericardial buttressing were completed via a median sternotomy.
MAIN RESULTS: Of 50 patients referred, 24 underwent LVR surgery. Mean age of the cohort was 63 years. Operative 30-day or in hospital mortality was 8%. Two other patients (8%) died from respiratory failure after LVR within the first year. Postoperative complications included prolonged air leaks (six of 24), tracheobronchitis (five of 24), mechanical ventilation (four of 24) and pneumonia (three of 24). Mean length of stay was 18 days (median 12 days). At one year, there was a sustained decrease in total lung capacity from 133% to 123% predicted. There were improvements in forced expiratory volume in 1 s, from 22% of predicted preoperatively to 32% postoperatively, and in 6 min walk performance, from 345 to 381 m. Improvements were also noted in the quality of life assessments.
CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary results suggest that LVR surgery is feasible and may improve the patient’s quality of life, pulmonary function and exercise capacity. A randomized clinical trial comparing LVR plus the best medical management with the best medical management alone is currently underway to determine the effectiveness of LVR.