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Tiny Coils Help COPD Patients to Breathe Easier

Discoveries and tests are being made on new procedures that can help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) without having to undergo surgery.

COPD which is an umbrella term for a group of lung related conditions, is a permanent lung disease that increasingly gets worse over time. Two of the most common form of COPD are the chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD often experience shortage of air, making them feel like they are suffocating.

Treating COPD:

The treatment of COPD is mostly reliant on changing one’s lifestyle, like quitting smoking. Other methods of treatment may involve medications like steroids, or inhaled medications also known as bronchodilators. However, these medications may lose effectiveness as the disease worsens.

Another method of treating COPD is the Lung Volume Reduction surgery which, in most cases, is a last resort reserved for people experiencing severe symptoms with no sign of improvement with medication.

During this procedure, surgeon removes the affected lung tissues, leaving the functional ones and allowing them to work more efficiently. By doing this, lung volume reduction surgery can improve shortness of breath, quality of life and survival.

But, this comes with some downsides. The surgery has risks, like prolonged recovery time and discomfort from the surgical scar.

Treating Damaged Tissue:

A new procedure is being tested by researchers in clinical trials at Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals across the U.S. This procedure helps the damaged lung tissue to regain the elasticity that was lost to disease.

During this procedure, doctors insert special flexible scopes through the patient’s mouth to enable them place metal coils into the damaged tissue of the patient’s lung. These coils will return elasticity to the diseased tissue, providing it the elasticity needed to function the normal way.

According to Dr. Cicenia, who is one of the researchers in the clinical trial and has performed the procedure, “We’re actually treating the lung by adding back elasticity to it that it had lost,”

“When you lose elasticity it takes a lot longer to empty the lungs, which leads to the lungs hyperinflating,” Dr. Cicenia continues.

This hyperinflation in the statement above is the reason why patients with COPD feel short of breath, Dr. Cicenia says.

“If you add back lost elasticity, you reduce hyperinflation and potentially improve shortness of breath,” he says.

Return of Lung Function:

The coils have been used in procedures within Europe since 2008 and patients who go received this procedure has been reported to experience improvements in their lung function, capacity for exercise and quality of life.

Recovery from this procedure is faster than the traditional COPD surgery because it is non-invasive.

While traditional procedures require large or several small incisions in the chest to remove affected lungs, the Lung Coil Procedure is non-invasive, meaning patients can go home after an overnight stay at the hospital.

Patients who undergo this procedure has be said to experience improvements on the distance they can cover during walks and their general life.

COPD is a major disease that has caused death in the U.S. Millions of people have a COPD diagnosis while some others have this disease without even knowing it.

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