Georgia Hospital Using Zephyr Valve System to Treat Breathing Problems Due to Emphysema

Georgia Hospital Using Zephyr Valve System to Treat Breathing Problems Due to Emphysema

Piedmont Atlanta announced that it is the first hospital in the state of Georgia to offer treatment for emphysema with the Zephyr Valve System, a minimally invasive therapy for better lung function and exercise tolerance without the need for surgery.

Patients with emphysema, a severe form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), report being able to breath easier, and to feel more energy after treatment with the Zephyr Valve System, marketed by Pulmonx.

With the system, doctors use a special instrument called a bronchoscope to implant small, self-expanding, one-way valves to isolate the diseased portions of the lungs. Patients are sedated during the procedure.

“This new treatment option is a life-changer for people with emphysema and severe COPD,” Ralitza Martin, an interventional pulmonologist with Piedmont Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, said in a press release.

“Until now, the only other options for these patients were highly invasive treatments such as surgical lung volume reduction or lung transplantation,” Martin added.

The Zephyr system was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat breathing difficulties in people with severe emphysema in June 2018.

In its approval announced, the agency noted: “Treatment options are limited for people with emphysema who have severe symptoms that have not improved from taking medicines. … This novel device is a less invasive treatment that expands the options available to patients.”

Emphysema breaks down the walls of the alveoli (the small sacs where gas exchanges occur in the lungs), resulting in a loss of the organ’s natural recoil. With each inhaled breath, air gets trapped in the diseased portions of the lungs, leading to hyperinflation.

In hyperinflated lungs, trapped air compresses healthier lung tissue and flattens the diaphragm, making it difficult to breathe.

The Zephyr Valve System’s self-expanding valves are designed to conform to the shape of the bronchial walls, creating a seal, and are one-way, meaning that inhaled air cannot enter diseased portions of the lungs, but trapped air and fluids can escape. This reduces hyperinflation, allowing the healthy lung to expand better.

“We’ve been doing this procedure for several months now and I have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of patients who have been treated,” Martin said.

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    • Alberto Molano says:

      Based on the following site, hospitals in Miami, Weston, Jupiter, Jacksonville and Orlando perform the procedure. Regarding Medicare coverage and inhalants, I suggest asking one of these doctors.

  1. I have severe emphysema/COPD. My meds are Pulmicort, Performance and Albuterol. All by nebulizer. This sounds very promising. How can I get this information to the attention of my Pulmonologist, Dr. John Berger at St. Johns Hospital in Maplewood, MN

    • Larry Windham says:

      My understanding is that procedure is ONLY for severe emphysema and not COPD. I had more COPD than emphysema and my pulmonologist in Houston said I do not qualify although all during the last trial I was told I could get the valves when approved by FDA. WRONG!
      I’vnot had anyone give a clear answer to criteria and/or eligibility.

      • Lauren says:

        My husband just had the treatment done. After a consult with the doctor that performed the surgery, she did a lung function test and ordered an X-ray and CT scan. She also retrieved all information from my husbands primary pulmonologist. During the bronchoscope, they look at each lobe of the lungs and decide which lobes can take the valve. If no lobes are viable, the procedure will not happen. My husband had two viable lobes for the valves. He is a Stage 4 COPD patient. They keep you in the hospital for three days after the procedure in case of a lung collapse.

  2. Rickie Daniels says:

    Dr. David R. Duhamel performed the first in Virginia at the Virginia Hospital Center earlier this year. NBC4 in Washington DC did a special report on the event.

    • Alberto Molano says:

      Hyperinflation decreases in the diseased portions: air which has become trapped in there can escape. Without the pressure exerted by that air in diseased portions, the healthy parts of the lung can expand.

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