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Lung-Reduction Surgery May Help Some Emphysema Patients

Major study finds it can boost survival, quality of life

FRIDAY, Feb. 3, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Many emphysema patients could gain lasting benefit from surgery that removes part of the lung, a large new study suggests.

Lung-volume reduction surgery involves removal of up to a third of the diseased portion of the lung. This U.S. study analyzed death rates, exercise ability, and quality of life in more than 1,200 emphysema patients after they had the surgery.

Five years after the surgery, patients with emphysema in the upper lobes of their lungs showed improvement in survival, exercise and quality of life, when compared with patients treated with standard medical therapy.

Patients who didn't experience improvements in any of the three areas after surgery had emphysema that had spread throughout the lungs and/or in the lower portion of their lungs.

"This validates the early results reported in 2003 -- the surgery is still a bad idea for some patients, but it is still a good idea for other patients," principal investigator Dr. Keith Naunheim, director of the division of cardiothoracic surgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"We now know the improvements resulting from lung-volume reduction surgery last longer in some patients. This is an operation we should strongly be recommending for many patients with end-stage emphysema."

The study was presented this week at the the Society of Thoracic Surgeons annual meeting in Chicago.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about emphysema.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University, news release, Jan. 30, 2006
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