Monday, December 15, 2014

Airway Bypass For COPD

New Studies on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema:

What's it like to have healthy lungs?

When a healthy person breathes in, tiny sacs (alveoli) in the lungs fill with air like small balloons. When the person breathes out, the sacs deflate, much like a balloon does when the air is let out. Breathing is easy and effortless, even under stress such as running, once they stop and rest.

A person with emphysema/COPD does not have this easy in and out ability because the walls of many of the lung alveoli are destroyed. Airways and air sacs lose their elasticity and are unable to function properly. This results in trapped air in the lungs, which causes the person with this condition to have over expanded lungs, changing the shape of the diaphragm, and resulting in the need to exert more effort to breathe. The lungs have less capacity because they fill with the air not expended.

New Information, Possible New Procedure

Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the world's most prestigious health organizations, located in Baltimore, Maryland, announced recently a new procedure for people with emphysema/Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Known as an airway bypass, it's a procedure which enables people with this condition to breathe more effectively.

Johns Hopkins describes the successful result of the airway bypass this way:  "holes are created between medium-sized airways and the alveoli to allow the trapped air to escape from the lungs." It's a minimally invasive procedure done with a bronchoscope (a long thin tube with a light and lens that is used to look at the airways.) The instrument is inserted through the mouth of the patient, into the windpipe and down into smaller airways, or bronchi. To get trapped air around these blocked airways, the doctor inserts a very small needle through the bronchoscope and uses it to create tiny holes through the airway wall in into surrounding alveoli. Up to six holes may be created in each lobe to connect the damaged collapsed airways with the larger, more healthy airways, allowing the trapped air to escape. The new passages are then kept open with stents that are similar to the wire mesh tubes used in heart stents, to keep arteries open. These stents are chemically treated to reduce scar tissue, which helps prevent the passageway from closing.

Studies To Determine Efficacy

Johns Hopkins conducted a "multicenter, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study" in 2012.  This procedure could make it possible for a much needed alternative to lung volume reduction surgery or a lung transplant. Both of these surgeries pose greater risks to the patient, and only benefit a select group of individuals.

What To Do If You Have COPD/Emphysema

If you suffer from emphysema/COPD, talk to your pulmonary doctor and ask about the airway bypass procedure. You may also ask about airway bypass by clicking on National Institute of Health  

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