Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)

Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) is one of only a few surgical treatments for patients with severe emphysema, also known as chronic obstructive lung (pulmonary) disease, or COPD.
Emphysema is a progressive lung disease most often associated with cigarette smoking. The disease permanently damages the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This traps air in the lungs, and also causes the lungs to become weak and distended, like an overused rubber band. Sometimes the disease is distributed evenly throughout the entire lung, and sometimes it is confined to one area of the lung.

The pressure from the distended areas of the lung compresses the nearby healthy lung tissue. This makes it difficult to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide when exhaling. 

Lung volume reduction surgery involves eliminating up to 30 percent of the lung’s total volume. This reduces the pressure caused by the distended areas of the lung, allowing the healthy parts of the lung to function better.

Surgeons at the University of Wisconsin have performed between 50 and 100 LVRS procedures over the past 10 years, with good to excellent results in 80 to 85 percent of patients.

While LVRS does not cure emphysema, it can, for a very specific group of emphysema patients, improve quality of life and provide an alternative to lung transplantation.