Originally developed to form a bridge to a lung transplant, lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) has itself become a successful treatment for select patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and disabling shortness of breath. It can significantly improve the patient’s health and reduce feelings of breathlessness. In some cases, LVRS may negate the need for lung transplant rather than serving as an interim treatment while awaiting transplant.

About Lung Reduction Surgery

The goal of LVRS is to remove damaged portions of the patient’s lung, helping the lung become more efficient. The process begins with an evaluation to determine if patients are candidates for the procedure. Physicians also assess to determine if changes to diet, activity levels, stress levels, medications, smoking and other lifestyle factors can be enhanced to further improve the patient’s condition.

Minimally invasive (thorascopy) or open approaches to the surgery may be used, depending on which areas of the lung will be reduced. During the procedure, surgeons locate and remove the most damaged areas of the lungs – up to 30 percent of each lung. By making the lungs smaller, they have more room to function within the chest.

Recovery From Lung Reduction Surgery

Patients are hospitalized for five to 10 days following surgery. They begin pulmonary rehabilitation about a month after surgery, which is crucial to recovery and should be continued through the rest of their lives. Through therapy, education and exercise, pulmonary rehabilitation helps patients with breathing retraining, energy conservation and overall improvements to physical health.