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News

National emphysema results confirm Washington University findings

Washington University In St Louis : 25 August, 2006  (Technical Article)
Cooper pioneered lung-volume reduction surgery in 1993, in which surgeons remove heavily damaged portions of lungs in patients with severe emphysema. Results from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, conducted independently of Washington University, will be presented May 20 at the American Thoracic Society
Cooper pioneered lung-volume reduction surgery in 1993, in which surgeons remove heavily damaged portions of lungs in patients with severe emphysema. Results from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, conducted independently of Washington University, will be presented May 20 at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference in Seattle.

“I’m very pleased that this national, multicenter trial confirms our findings over the past 10 years,” Cooper says. “This procedure is not a cure for emphysema. But this national trial demonstrates, again in a scientific fashion, that the surgery improves patients’ quality of life, which we believe is the most meaningful outcome for people with severe emphysema. In addition, the study confirms our more limited evidence that LVRS may add to life expectancy. Anyone with severe emphysema who meets strict surgical criteria should have access to this procedure.”

In addition to their hallmark study published in 1996 in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, which showed that LVRS significantly improves quality of life in patients with severe emphysema, Cooper’s team recently published two reports, one in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and one in the journal Chest, that demonstrate long-term improvements in overall health and quality of life for these individuals. The studies also confirm the validity of several key selection criteria and suggest that patients who require surgery to the upper lobes of the lungs respond better than those who require surgery to the lower portion of the lungs.

Emphysema is characterized by destruction and overinflation of the lungs. As the lungs become progressively bloated, they fill the chest cavity and thorax, making it difficult to expand and contract during normal breathing. Following LVRS, many patients can once again resume routine activities like shopping for groceries, traveling and showering without getting excessively short of breath.

In the 1950s, the late Otto Brantigan, M.D., a surgeon at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, first proposed the concept that removal of diseased sections of lung tissue may allow severe emphysema patients to breath more easily. But many of Brantigan’s patients died, and the medical community dismissed the procedure. Cooper, who also is credited with performing the world’s first successful single- and double-lung transplants, redeveloped and refined the procedure in the early 1990s.
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