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What is pulmonary emphysema and endobronchial valves

Pulmonary emphysema is a disease that affects the lungs, especially the upper part, mainly caused by the inhalation of tobacco smoke. The experts from the “Health and Prevention” blog analyze it in a new post.

Consequently, patients with pulmonary emphysema suffer progressive destruction of their pulmonary alveoli, the air sacs in the lungs.

This causes a destruction of the lung tissue as well as an enlargement of the lungs that makes them very ineffective, making the diaphragms work worse as well as the patient’s breathing mechanics.

“By destroying the elastic fibers of the lung, it becomes larger, as the air is trapped. These patients suffer from a continuous feeling of lack of air”, according to the explanation doctor Lorena Comeche, associate head of the Pneumology Service at the Quirónsalud Madrid University Hospital.

According to specific Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR)pulmonary emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the most common chronic respiratory disease in adults and the fourth leading cause of death in Spain.

Among the emphysema symptoms, Dr. Comeche points out a cough with mucus or wheezing, shortness of breath or feeling of pressure in the chest, among others, besides the fact that it is common for these patients to develop respiratory tract infections. Swelling in the limbs, weight loss or muscle weakness are other symptoms in some cases.

The diagnosiscontinues, it is formed from the patient’s clinical history, his possible antecedents in the matter, laboratory tests such as blood tests, as well as other tests of the patient’s pulmonary function and the taking of images through of X-rays or chest CT.

New ways of treatment

Dr. Comeche emphasizes that, until now, patients with this pathology were treated with bronchodilators, corticosteroids, rehabilitation and even lung reduction surgery.

To all these tools the Hospital Universitari Quirónsalud Madrid has incorporated the placement of Zephyr valves, which include the airway of a distended lung area and are placed through bronchoscopy. Its placement allows the affected lung to decrease in size and to function more effectively”, says the doctor.

“These lungs thus have a smaller size, fit better in the ribcage and have a better pulmonary function, they work more effectively”, highlights the doctor José María Echave-Sustaeta, head of the Pneumology Service at the Quirónsalud Madrid University Hospital.

“Through a bronchoscopy team – he adds – valves are installed inside the bronchi that allow the lungs to gradually reduce in size and function more effectively.”

Improves the patient’s breathing in just 24 hours

This specialist notes that the patient improves clinically in the first 24 hours.

“There is a reduction in respiratory difficulty, the patient’s quality of life improves, his lung function and crises of exacerbation of respiratory function decrease, in addition to improving the patient’s survival,” he says.

Among its advantages, Dr. Comeche highlights that the indicated patients who have been implanted with this device show less difficulty breathing, as well as a greater ability to exercise or an improvement in their lung function and, in short, in their quality of life.

It is not a technique for every patient

However, not all patients with pulmonary emphysema can benefit from the use of this new technique, but it is indicated for patients with hyperinflation associated with severe emphysema, with areas of the lung with little or no collateral ventilation.

“The selection of patients is fundamental for the treatment to be effective”, stresses Dr. José María Echave-Sustaeta.

This expert explains that before these valves are implanted in the patient’s lung, pulmonary function tests must be carried out, as well as a radiological quantification of emphysema, in addition to an analysis of the volumes of the lung lobes through specific software.

As Dr. Comeche explains, the implantation of this device is carried out in the operating room by performing a bronchoscopy. This intervention lasts between 30 and 60 minutes in which between three and five valves are placed to include a complete lobe of the lung.

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