Emphysema

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

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Surgery for emphysema

Bullectomy, the removal of bullae (thin-walled air – filled areas that may compress normal lung tissue) is one method to reduce some of the symptoms of emphysema/COPD.

Lung volume reduction surgery is another surgical technique. It may be an option for patients with severe emphysema symptoms that do not respond to attempts at medical therapy. In this technique, about 20% to 30% of tissue from both lungs is removed; the area removed is usually the lung tissue sections that have minimal or no function.

Finally, lung transplantation is a possibility for certain selected patients. Patients with COPD/emphysema are the largest category of patients that undergo lung transplantation.

Pulmonary rehabilitation for emphysema

Pulmonary rehabilitation involves methods to improve the patient's quality of life by keeping airways open and preventing or reducing secondary complications such as infections and recurrent respiratory symptoms. Pulmonary rehabilitation involves input from doctors and nurses, dietitians, respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, and many others. The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to educate the patient and family about the disease process, encourage routine exercise increasing in graded increments, smoking cessation, medications and medical management, respiratory and chest physiotherapy, and exercises to improve breathing. In addition, the program should offer psychological and social support for the patient. Pulmonary rehabilitation can teach patients how better to control their disease and live a more vibrant and enjoyable life.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/4/2016
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