Lung volume reduction without surgery, otherwise known as Bronchoscopic Lung Volume Reduction (BLVR), was approved in the United States in the Summer of 2018 for the treatment of individuals with severe COPD/emphysema who have limited walking capacity and decreased quality of life. This innovative procedure is currently being offered in a limited number of medical centers across the U.S.
The program in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at Weill Cornell was successfully launched in January 2019 by Dr. Ben-Gary Harvey, who serves as the division’s Director of Bronchoscopy and Procedure Services.
Emphysema is a debilitating chronic disease that leads to shortness of breath and reduced quality of life, affecting millions of people globally. Emphysema affects the alveoli, which are the air sacs in your lungs. With this disease, air gets trapped in these sacs, limiting the amount of oxygen-rich air your body takes in. It also causes lung hyperinflation, in which the diseased lung region expands. The diseased region compresses the healthier region, and breathing becomes increasingly more difficult.
Individuals with severe COPD that have evidence of emphysema on radiologic studies along with a decreased walking capacity may qualify after undergoing a complete clinical evaluation to determine whether they would benefit from this procedure.
The evaluation takes place in our outpatient pulmonary clinic which is located at 425 East 61st street, on the 4th floor. The procedure itself is performed in the bronchoscopy suite of the Starr Pavilion of the main hospital which is located at 520 East 70th street.
A bronchoscopy is performed to deliver several one-way valves into the most diseased, hyperinflated, and nonfunctional emphysematous portions of the lungs. The valves allow air and secretions to come out, resulting in atelectasis (closure of these parts of the lungs). The newly created space in the chest cavity can now be occupied by the healthier portions of the lungs; this results in improvement of breathing function, walking capacity and quality of life. Significant data has been published demonstrating clinical benefit of this procedure, including improvement in lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life; in addition, most patients notice an increase in stamina.
The procedure requires sedation or general anesthesia, takes about an hour, and does not require surgery. Upon termination of the procedure, patients are monitored for three to five days in the hospital.
Your doctor will conduct certain tests to determine if you are a candidate that would benefit from bronchoscopic lung volume reduction.
Common tests include:
· A Pulmonary function test (PFT), which is a test that measures your lung function
· A CT scan of your chest, which will show the distribution of the emphysema
· A 6-minute walk test (6MWT), which measures your stamina and shows how far you can walk during 6 minutes
· Routine blood tests
Patients looking to learn more, or physicians looking to refer for an evaluation can contact us
by phone at (646) 962-2738 or by email at valvesforLVR@med.cornell.edu