Indexed on: 11 Dec '13Published on: 11 Dec '13Published in: Current opinion in anaesthesiology
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive, debilitating disease that in its final stages cripples the patient. The disappointing results of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial study led to a decrease in the acceptance of lung volume reduction surgery as a therapy. Thus, it became clear that debilitated COPD patients would need innovative alternative nonsurgical procedures to potentially alleviate their symptoms. This review will address the various techniques of bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVR).In recent years, a variety of noninvasive BLVR procedures were developed in the hope of improving the respiratory status of these patients. BLVR aims to decrease the extent of hyperinflation due to emphysema and result in a beneficial effect similar to that from surgical resection. The most widely used BLVR devices are: endobronchial valves, foam sealant, metallic coils, airway bypass stents and vapor thermal ablation.In the USA, BLVR remains in the experimental phase. The treatment modalities should be individually tailored for each patient. Endobronchial valves are designed to exclude the most affected emphysematous regions from ventilation in order to induce lobar absorption atelectasis. Airway bypass stents target homogenous emphysema, whereas valves and thermal vapor ablation target heterogeneous emphysema. Biological sealants and endoscopic coil implants have been used in both homogenous and heterogeneous emphysema.BLVR appears to be safer than surgery and presents an attractive alternative for the treatment of COPD patients. Unfortunately, the outcome data to date are inconclusive; the procedures remain experimental and any benefits unproven. However, the data that are emerging continue to appear promising.