October 27, 2008

New Emphysema Treatment is Studied

U.S. scientists are studying an investigational emphysema treatment that involves using stents to create new pathways for air in diseased lungs.

Researchers at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center said the new procedure involves creating openings in the airway wall connecting the damaged lung tissue to the natural airway in a minimally invasive procedure. The holes, kept open by small stents, could relieve the hyperinflation of the lungs, allowing the healthy parts of the lungs to more easily inflate and take in air.

"Airway bypass is groundbreaking because right now it is the only treatment being studied to help emphysema patients whose disease has destroyed tissue throughout the lung," said Dr. Ali Musani, principal investigator of the study. "If successful this Â… procedure would help those who would not otherwise be considered for or benefit from lung volume reduction surgery."

Although the procedure is still under clinical investigation, feasibility data suggest it may hold promise for patients with emphysema.

That feasibility study was reported in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.