Emphysema - Experience

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What is emphysema?

Emphysema is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that presents as an abnormal and permanent enlargement of air spaces distal to the terminal bronchioles. It frequently occurs in association with obstructive pulmonary problems and chronic bronchitis. It is unusual for someone to have pure emphysema unless it is a result of genetic abnormalities. Most people have some combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis with varying degrees of airway bronchospasm. This condition is commonly referred to as COPD (and in the United Kingdom, as chronic obstructive lung disease, COLD).

There are three morphological types of emphysema; 1) centriacinar, 2) panacinar, and 3) paraseptal.

  1. Centriacinar begins in the respiratory bronchioles and spreads peripherally mainly in the upper half of the lungs and is usually associated with long-standing cigarette smoking.
  2. Panacinar predominates in the lower half of the lungs and destroys the alveolar tissue and is associated with homozygous alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disease.
  3. Paraseptal emphysema preferentially localizes around the septae of the lungs or pleura, often associated with inflammatory processes, like prior lung infections.
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