Endobronchial valve surgery

Minimally invasive treatment which can significantly improve lung function.

Minimally invasive treatment which can significantly improve lung function measures and quality of life for patients with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Why you might need it

Emphysema is a long term, progressive condition that occurs when the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lung are damaged, leading to shortness of breath and a vulnerability to other respiratory infections.

Within a normal lung, there are millions of small air sacs (alveoli) which are elastic and form a thick structure. The air sacs provide a large surface area for gases to be exchanged between the air and the blood. During inhalation (breathing in) oxygen passes into the bloodstream from the air and during exhalation (breathing out), carbon dioxide is released.

In emphysema, the walls separating the air sacs become diseased and the air sacs merge to become larger sacs – resulting in less surface area and thus less oxygen entering the blood stream.

Normally to breathe out, the elastic nature of the lungs helps to squeeze the air out. In a diseased lung, the elastic tissue does not work very well so air becomes trapped in the large air sacs, making it difficult to breathe out (hyperinflation).

If you have significant emphysema and shortness of breath, you may be suitable for endobronchial valve surgery.

Find a Spire hospital offering this treatment

Who will do it?

Endobronchial valve surgery is performed by consultant thoracic surgeons.

Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. A number of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.

Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the surgeon you want to work with, when you want, and where you want from across our network of hospitals and many clinics across the UK. They'll be with you every step of the way: from giving advice at your first consultation, through to offering on-going support after your surgery.

All of our surgeons are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well equipped hospitals. If you don't have someone in mind, we can help you choose the best consultant for you.

Before your treatment

Before you embark on any treatment or surgery, you will need to come for a formal initial consultation with a consultant thoracic surgeon.

During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, diagnosis and any concerns you might have. It is important that you have a thorough assessment as endobronchial valve surgery is not appropriate for everyone with COPD/emphysema.

Your consultant will discuss with you if they feel any further diagnostic tests such as scans or blood tests are needed, if there are any other treatment pathways to consider that might be an option or if you can be booked straight in for a procedure.

All patients, either insured or paying for themselves, can gain rapid access to some of the latest generation diagnostic imaging and treatments.

Preparing for your treatment

Your consultant will give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your procedure.

Two or three weeks before your operation you will be asked to attend a preadmission clinic for a blood pressure check and routine blood and urine tests. A nurse or physiotherapist will talk to you about your needs at home, so that any necessary arrangements can be planned before you go into hospital.

We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.

For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.

Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.

The procedure

Endoscopic lung volume reduction is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure that involves the insertion of ‘endobronchial valves’. Using a bronchoscope (a small flexible camera that is passed into the lungs via the nose or mouth), approximately two to five small one way valves are placed into the affected area of the lung to allow air to escape from the overinflated part of the lung. There is no need for any incision in the body.

With the valve/s in place, when you exhale, air and secretions are able to move through the valve and out of the lung compartment that is fed by that airway. But when you inhale, the valve closes and blocks air from entering that lung compartment.

In summary, the procedure blocks the ‘bad’ parts of the lung from breathing, allowing more space for the ‘better’ parts to breathe.

The procedure takes between 30 minutes and one hour to perform and involves a 1-4 night stay in hospital.

Following the implantation of the valve/s you will see an improvement in your ability to breathe, walk and exercise as well as become more independent.


After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision. 

Your friends and family will be able to visit pretty much anytime you want – we have flexible visiting hours.

You will be taken from the operating theatre to the intensive treatment unit (ITU) where you will be closely monitored for around 24 hours. When you wake up from the anaesthesia, you will be connected to machines that record the activity of your heart, lungs and other body systems.

You will be advised on the steps you should take to aid your recovery before you leave the hospital but everyone recovers from this sort of operation at a different speed.

A physiotherapist will see you each day during your hospital stay. They will run through some gentle exercises to help maintain your circulation and will offer support and advice to help get you back on your feet.

Before you leave the hospital, your consultant may give you a thorough checkup and repeat some of the tests that you had before your operation.

A letter will be sent to your GP, but you should also make sure that your GP knows that you are returning home after having this operation.

At your follow-up appointment, your consultant will give you advice about resuming your other normal activities, including returning to work, if applicable. A full recovery can take two to three months.

Important to note

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.

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