Lung volume reduction surgery

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Lung volume reduction surgery, or LVRS, can improve the quality of life for certain COPD and emphysema patients. Parts of the lung that are particularly damaged by emphysema are removed, allowing the remaining, relatively good lung to expand and work more efficiently.

Conventional LVRS involves resection of the most severely affected areas of emphysematous, non-bullous lung (aim is for 20-30%). This is a surgical option involving a mini-thoracotomy for patients suffering end stage COPD due to underlying emphysema, and can improve lung elastic recoil as well as diaphragmatic function.

Increased mortality, contraindicating the procedure, is noted in patients that have both:

  1. FEV1 < 20%
  2. DLCO < 20% or diffusely distributed emphysema on a CT scan

The National Emphysema Treatment Trial[1] was a large multicentre study (N = 1218) comparing LVRS with non-surgical treatment. Results suggested that:

  1. There was no overall survival advantage in the LVRS group, except for mainly upper-lobe emphysema + poor exercise capacity, and
  2. Significant improvements were seen in exercise capacity in the LVRS group.

Possible complications:[2]

  • Mortality at 90 days of 1.8% and survival at 3 and 5 years of 91.1% and 76% respectively.
  • Prolonged air leak (mean duration post surgery until all chest tubes removed is 10.9 +/- 8.0 days)

In patients who have a predominantly upper lobe emphysema, lung volume reduction surgery could result in better health status and lung function, though it also increases the risk of early mortality and adverse events.[3]


  1. ^ Fishman, A; Martinez, F; Naunheim, K; Piantadosi, S; Wise, R; Ries, A; Weinmann, G; Wood, DE; National Emphysema Treatment Trial Research, Group (22 May 2003). "A randomized trial comparing lung-volume-reduction surgery with medical therapy for severe emphysema.". The New England Journal of Medicine. 348 (21): 2059–73. doi:10.1056/nejmoa030287. PMID 12759479. 
  2. ^ Hopkins, P. M.; Seale, H.; Walsh, J.; Tam, R.; Kermeen, F.; Bell, S.; McNeil, K. (1 February 2006). "51: Long term results post conventional lung volume reduction surgery exceeds outcome of lung transplantation for emphysema". The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation. 25 (2, Supplement): S61. doi:10.1016/j.healun.2005.11.053. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  3. ^ van Agteren, JE; Carson, KV; Tiong, LU; Smith, BJ (14 October 2016). "Lung volume reduction surgery for diffuse emphysema.". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 10: CD001001. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001001.pub3. PMID 27739074.