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The treatment: Lung surgery

New Treatments for COPD: Page 4

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Doctor checking a patient by her bedside

What's new: Lung Volume Reduction Surgery

Currently, in advanced cases of COPD, some doctors recommend a type of surgery known as LVRS, which stands for Lung Volume Reduction Surgery. What LVRS does is remove 20 to 30 percent of the most severely damaged lung tissue in hopes that the remaining sections will function better. The treatment is relatively new, so doctors don't know how long the effects will last.

Why it's encouraging: Studies show that in cases where the surgery works, patients' breathing is much improved.

What to watch for: Current open-chest surgery is both highly invasive and dangerous, with a mortality risk of around 5 percent. There are other complications as well, such as pneumonia or the creation of an air leak from the lung.

What's coming: Some surgeons -- instead of opening the chest -- are experimenting with video-assisted thoracic surgery, using a series of tiny cuts to remove small sections of lung tissue. If this method proves successful, expect it to become a mainstream treatment.