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The AnMed Health Blog hosts information about different service line offerings and system wide happenings. This is a place to share a spotlight on our staff and the medical services offered to our patients. We hope you take the time to read and learn more about the AnMed Health family.

Breathing relief available for emphysema patients

Some patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will breathe a little easier thanks to a minimally invasive procedure at AnMed Health Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Abhijit Raval identifies potential patients with severe emphysema for the lung spiration valve procedure, which uses a small, umbrella-shaped valve to improve lung function.

COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases that obstructs airflow and cause difficulty breathing. According to the American Lung Association, over 16.4 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, and millions more may have it and not know it.

COPD is the third-leading cause of death by disease. Emphysema is one of the most common types of COPD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it affects 3.5 million in the United States.

Dr. Raval said that people with COPD have a functional obstruction that limits their ability to exhale air out of their lungs.

“The lungs are like a sponge, and they can only hold so much air,” he said.

When a COPD patient can no longer take in any more air, they become short of breath, Dr. Raval said.

There are effective therapies that can help control symptoms, slow progression, improve quality of life and reduce the risk of exacerbations of symptoms that can lead to hospital stays.

Dr. Raval said there are only a few medications available to treat COPD and emphysema, and sometimes those medications don’t work well. The lung spiration valve procedure gives specialists such as Dr. Raval a new option in treating severe emphysema.

The valve is placed in targeted airways of the lungs during a short bronchoscopic procedure. Once the valves are in place, air can get out of that part of the lung, but none can get in. The hyper-inflated bad part of the lung collapses and allows the lung’s good part to function better. It is an inpatient procedure and usually requires a two-day hospital stay.

Candidates considered for the new procedure are those who have a lung capacity of less than 45% and are not responding well to the standard treatment. If a patient meets the criteria after a complete medical history and physical exam, a CT determines if they would benefit.

Dr. Raval said some patients could climb stairs after the procedure, something they haven’t been able to do in a long time.

“It impacts a patient’s well-being and their day-to-day life,” Dr. Raval said, noting that the procedure has been incorporated into his practice’s treatment regimen.

With November being COPD Awareness Month, now is a good time for anyone suffering from severe emphysema to talk with their doctor and ask for a referral.

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