A minimally invasive treatment, which can help improve lung function and breathlessness for some people with emphysema (a form of COPD) is helping sufferers to breath easier. One of the latest to benefit is Jennifer Holroyd, from Gomersal, near Leeds.
Jennifer, 68, suffered from asthma since birth, and her life has been affected by emphysema for the last 20 years. She experienced shortness of breath, which affected every aspect of her life. Even walking a short distance was difficult, and climbing a flight of stairs was impossible.
Since having Endobronchial Valve treatment (ELVR), a relatively new treatment in the UK, at Spire Leeds Hospital last February she is now able to enjoy activities with family and friends once again.
Developed over the past 10 years in close collaboration with leading clinicians in respiratory medicine, less than 3,000 ELVR procedures have been performed in Europe. Spire Leeds Hospital is one of just a handful of private hospitals in the country offering the treatment.
“Every year around 900,000 Britons are diagnosed with lung conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis which leaves them breathless,” said Mr. Kostas Papagiannopoulos, consultant thoracic surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital and one of the UK’s most experienced ELVR surgeons. “This is a minimally invasive treatment for emphysema. It’s helping some patients to breathe better, walk further and enjoy a more active lifestyle.”
Up until now, invasive surgery has been the only surgical option for people with this condition so Jennifer was pleased to learn about the new treatment option. Significant numbers of patients are unsuitable to undergo lung volume reduction surgery and as a result are sometimes told that the only course of action is medical management of their condition. Now there is hope for many of those who thought their condition was untreatable.
Treatment involves using a small flexible camera, which is passed into the lungs via the nose or mouth. Between two and five small one-way ‘endobronchial valves’ are then placed into the lung wind pipes to allow air to escape from the over-inflated part of the lung.
The procedure takes between 30 minutes to one hour. Following treatment patients stay in hospital between one to four days.
With the valves in place, when a patient exhales, the air is able to move through the valves and out of the lung compartment. When the patient inhales, the valve closes and blocks air from entering that lung compartment.
Commenting on the treatment three months after the procedure, Jennifer, a retired practice secretary for a GP and grandmother to two girls, said, “I’m able to breathe properly and more deeply and can now climb a flight of stairs without getting short of breath. That’s a huge difference for me. Although it’s early days, my quality of life has already improved. I’m especially looking forward to spending more time with my family as I’ve missed out on so much with my grandchildren and I’m also hoping to return to my beloved gardening.”
Mr. Papagiannopoulos added, “This treatment has improved Jennifer’s lung function and ability to breathe enabling her to regain a better quality of life and to carry out daily routines without the fear of constantly needing her medications. The positive effects of the treatment are almost immediate.
He continues, “As it does not involve invasive surgery there are fewer ‘surgical risks’, no surgical cuts, quicker recovery time and the effects can be almost immediate. The procedure provides another option for the treatment of some cases of a very pervasive disease.”