Emphysema is a chronic, progressive lung disease that affects more than 3.1 million Americans. It turns the simple act of breathing into a difficult chore. But for many people with emphysema, there is hope of lessening the debilitating symptoms of this disease. Today, Washington University general thoracic surgeons offer a surgical procedure that can increase lung function, relieve shortness of breath and improve patients’ quality of life. 

Lung volume reduction surgery is a surgical procedure in which the most diseased portions of the lung (20-30% of each lung) are removed to allow more space for the remaining lung to inflate. While not a cure for emphysema, the surgery does give many patients the opportunity to lead healthier, more active lives.

First lung volume reduction surgery

The first lung volume reduction surgery was performed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1993. Since that time, Washington University thoracic surgeons have completed hundreds of these procedures with patients showing marked improvement in ability to breathe more easily.

The lung volume reduction surgery program is successful because of the teamwork of skilled surgeons, pulmonologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists and nurses who all have extensive experience working with lung and lung transplant patients.

Benefits of lung volume reduction surgery

Lung volume reduction surgery has been shown to:

  • Relieve shortness of breath
  • Increase energy level and physical mobility
  • Improve ability to function at work and do housework
  • Make social life and hobbies more enjoyable
  • Create a dramatic improvement in lung function

The surgery also may decrease the need for supplemental oxygen.

Am I a candidate?

Lung volume reduction surgery may provide an alternative for patients not suited for lung transplantation and for those who have not responded to medication, respiratory care or other medical therapy. Patients must have severe emphysema and meet strict requirements.

Will my insurance cover the cost of the procedure?

Lung volume reduction surgery is neither investigational nor experimental. Therefore, commercial, managed care and major medical insurance companies do cover the procedure once proper authorization is obtained.

Treatment specialists

Washington University general thoracic surgeons provide diagnosis and treatment for emphysema and lung volume disorders.

Contact us

For a lung surgery consultation, call 888-287-8741 or 314-362-7260.

Lung surgeons