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Emphysema—a chronic, progressive lung disease characterized by physical destruction of lung tissue and loss of lung elasticity—affects millions of Americans and is a leading cause of death in the United States. For many people with the disease, the simple act of breathing becomes a difficult chore. The lungs become overstretched, leaving a decreased surface area for oxygen exchange.

A procedure called lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) can increase lung function, relieve shortness of breath and improve quality and length of life for individuals with severe emphysema. The surgery also provides an alternative for patients with severe emphysema who are not candidates for lung transplantation and for those who have not responded to medical therapy, respiratory care or medications. 

LVRS, in which 20 percent to 30 percent of the most diseased portions of the lung are removed, allows increased airspace for the remaining lung to inflate. Although not a cure for emphysema, nor an option for all patients, the surgery can give many people the chance to live healthier and more active lives. 

Since the first LVRS was performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1993, Washington University thoracic surgeons have completed hundreds of the procedures, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s LVRS program remains a Lung Volume Reduction Center of Excellence, a designation that (L to R) Roger Yusen, MD, MPH, Bryan Meyers, MD, MPH, and Marsha Johnson, ACNP, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of emphysema. recognizes its outstanding patient care and leadership in thoracic surgery. 

The LVRS program utilizes teamwork among surgeons, pulmonologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists, nurses and nurse practitioners, all of whom have extensive experience working with, and caring for, LVRS and lung transplant patients. 

To learn more about lung volume reduction surgery, visit http://barnesjewish.org/Medical-Services/Lung-Diseases/Lung-Volume-Reduction-Surgery or call (800) 851-9479

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