Surgery Continues to Help Severe Emphysema Cases

U.S. trial finds patients often get symptom relief, with benefits lasting for years

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Surgery helps certain patients with severe emphysema, and the benefits can last for years, the latest findings from the U.S. National Emphysema Treatment Trial (NETT) confirm.

These new results support earlier findings that lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) helps selected patients with advanced emphysema predominately in the upper area of the lung, and that the benefits are still apparent years later.

Earlier preliminary results reported in 2003 were from patients followed for an average of about two years after surgery. These latest findings are from 1,218 patients tracked for an average of 4.3 years.

The newest results also confirm that patients with upper-lobe emphysema and poor exercise capacity who have surgery are more likely to have improved survival compared to similar patients who receive only medical therapy.

In addition, surgery seemed to provide some symptom relief in patients with emphysema in the upper lung area but who had good exercise capacity prior to surgery. However, surgery did not improve survival rates in this group of patients.

The findings were published in the August issue of the journal Annals of Thoracic Surgery. NETT, a project of agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the largest study of LVRS to treat severe emphysema.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about emphysema.

SOURCE: U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, news release, Aug. 1, 2006

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