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Can Patients With Emphysema Benefit From Lung Volume Reduction Surgery?
Medical Editor: Leslie J. Schoenfield, MD, PhD
Emphysema is a crippling disease that affects almost 2 million people in the USA. Smoking is the principal cause of emphysema. Genetic (inherited through genes) forms of emphysema, however, also exist. These genetic forms are caused by certain biochemical (enzyme) deficiencies in the lungs. The main symptom in patients with emphysema is shortness of breath at rest and even more so during exercise. The traditional medical treatment of emphysema includes drugs that widen or open the air passages (bronchodilator drugs), oxygen, exercise programs (regimens), and steroids when the disease worsens (exacerbates). I should point out, however, that oxygen therapy is the only treatment that has been associated with an actual improvement (increase) in the duration of life (survival) for certain patients with emphysema.