Stents for emphysema

January 28, 2008 8:34:24 AM PST
Emphysema is a chronic irreversible lung disease that over time destroys a patient's lung tissue. More than three million Americans suffer from emphysema, making it the fourth leading killer in the United States. Loss of lung tissue and elasticity, combined with collapsing airways make exhalation nearly impossible. The inability to effectively exhale leaves emphysema patients with hyperinflation in their lungs. Hyperinflation makes breathing inefficient, causing the patient to feel constantly out of breath. Emphysema suffers struggle to perform even the most minimally aerobic activities and often become dependant on oxygen therapy. Cigarette smoke is the most common cause of emphysema. When tobacco is inhaled, it temporarily paralyzes the microscopic hairs that line the lungs. These hairs play a crucial role in cleaning irritants and germs out of airways and when they're not working, irritants stay in the lungs eventually breaking down elastic fibers.

SYMPTOMS: Shortness of breath and difficulty performing any kind of physical activity are the most common symptoms of emphysema. Loss of appetite and weight loss is another common symptom those with emphysema experience. Eating can become a tiring activity resulting in loss of breath. In addition to feeling short of breath, a full stomach pushes up on the diaphragm making it harder to breath. As a result, eating becomes less desirable. Fatigue is also a symptom of emphysema. Overtime shortness of breath and decreased oxygen levels will deprive a person of energy. Coughing is uncommon for patients with emphysema and when they do cough it is unproductive, meaning little to no phlegm comes up.

TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS: The most important treatment step for those with emphysema who still smoke is quitting. Nicotine replacement methods and medication can help curb cravings that typically occur for the first few weeks after quitting. Bronchodilator drugs and inhaled steroids help relieve symptoms of emphysema by opening up air passages. Supplemental oxygen is also used to provide relief from emphysema. Surgery is also an option for acute emphysema suffers. Lung volume reduction surgery removed wedges of damaged lung tissue so that patients can breath more efficiently. When all other options have failed, lung transplant surgery is done in extreme cases.

NEW TREATMENT OPTION: A new surgical procedure is currently being studied that may relieve emphysema patients from constantly feeling short of breath. During the procedure, the surgeon inserts a flexible bronchoscope down the patient's mouth and into the airways. A Doppler probe is then inserted through the bronchoscope to identify places in the airways where small holes can be made. The holes must be made away from blood vessels and are made using a special needle. Once up to six holes have been made, stents are then placed in the holes to keep them from closing. The surgery takes about one to two hours and, so far, patients report noticing an immediate improvement in their shortness of breath.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: EASE Stent Trials: Bronchus Technologies, Inc. / / (866) 431-3273