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What is lung volume reduction surgery?

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Lung-volume reduction surgery is performed to remove damaged lung tissue as a result of severe emphysema, according to The University of Chicago Medicine. The surgery can be conducted using minimally-invasive surgical techniques.

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During the surgery, approximately one-quarter of the damaged tissue from each lung is removed to help the air sacs function properly, states University of California Keck School of Medicine. The greater the volume of air that the air sacs must empty, the harder they have to work. Lung-volume reduction surgery improves symptoms arising from severe emphysema, including shortness of breath, lowered air capacity in the lungs, fatigue and coughing. LVRS can be done using a sternotomy or thoracoscopy.

Several tests are performed to evaluate a patient's candidacy for LVRS, including a chest x-ray, electrocardiograms, an oxygen titration or cardiopulmonary exercise test. Patients who have upper-lobe emphysema and have trouble exercising are the best candidates for lung-volume reduction surgery, asserts Cleveland Clinic. Patients that can tolerate exercise and have emphysema that affects all parts of the lungs, or diffuse emphysema, do not have the same positive results as those with upper-lobe emphysema. Complications from the surgery include increased risk of stroke and heart attack, bleeding, significant air leakage or death.

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