New Treatment Could Help Emphysema Sufferers

THURSDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers are studying an experimental airway bypass treatment to help people with emphysema breathe easier.

The EASE (Exhale Airway Stents for Emphysema) study will examine a treatment that involves creating pathways in the lung for trapped air to escape, which, in turn, may relieve shortness of breath and other symptoms of emphysema, said the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

"There are limited treatment options right now for these patients who struggle for each breath. This new, cutting-edge, non-surgical procedure actually creates new pathways for airflow and could offer another option for those who would otherwise possibly spend years waiting on a lung transplant list," principal investigator Dr. John Kucharczuk, a thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of surgery, said in a prepared statement.

The new small pathways in the lungs are created by using a special kind of needle. Stents are then inserted to keep the new air passages open. The procedure was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. The international, multi-center EASE study is currently enrolling patients. Call 1-866-431-3273 to learn more about the study.

Emphysema, most often caused by smoking, affects more than three million people in the United States and about 60 million people worldwide. The chronic, progressive and irreversible lung disease is characterized by the destruction of lung tissue.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania, news release, April 4, 2007

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