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Lung Reduction Surgery Overview

Lung reduction surgery can help relieve symptoms by removing the most affected and no longer functioning parts of the lungs. This procedure, however, has been the center of much controversy over whether the potential benefits may be outweighed by the potential harm and expense. Hence, it is reasonable to present the crucial points regarding the mentioned surgery.

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Lung reduction surgery is the removal of pathologically altered parts of the lungs to prevent over-inflation and, as a result, eliminate respiratory disorders and improve lung function (AARC). Clinical studies have shown the advantage of such operations over drug treatment only when the upper lobes of the lungs are affected (American Lung Association).

Therefore, such procedures are not recommended for the widespread use and require careful patient selection (American Thoracic Society 1). As with lung transplantation, these operations can only be performed on those patients who have undergone preoperative rehabilitation and who have exhausted all the possibilities of drug treatment (NIH). It is essential in such cases to quit smoking a few months before the operation.

According to the National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT), pulmonary volume reduction surgery has been shown to increase survival in patients with severe upper lobe emphysema and poor exercise tolerance after rehabilitation compared with drug therapy (Alifano 16). In patients with high exercise tolerance after pulmonary rehabilitation, performing surgical reduction of lung volume does not lead to an increase in survival. However, there is an increase in health-related quality of life and work capacity.

As a result of lung reduction surgery – in appropriately selected patients – breathing mechanics are significantly improved, blood oxygen saturation and physical endurance are increased. It leads to a decrease in shortness of breath, an improvement in the quality of life, and enhances the effect of drug therapy. Therefore, not only thoracic surgeons but also therapists, pulmonologists, and radiologists should be aware of the possibility of lung reduction surgery.

Works Cited

AARC. “New Treatments for COPD: What RTs Need to Know.” AARC, 2019, Web.

Alifano, Marco, et al. “Treatment of COPD: from Pharmacological to Instrumental Therapies.” European Respiratory Review, vol. 19, 2010, pp. 7–23.

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American Lung Association. “Lung Volume Reduction Surgery.”, 2020, Web.

American Thoracic Society. “Surgery for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.”, Web.

NIH. “COPD.” NIH, 2020.

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