DuBOIS — Until recently, there were few treatment options for most patients with severe emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD.
Locally, that is no longer the case.
The Lung Center at Penn Highlands DuBois has become the first medical facility in the region to offer bronchoscopic lung volume reduction using the first FDA-approved lung valve for helping emphysema and COPD patients breathe more easily without major surgery.
Carl Chittester of DuBois, who was diagnosed with COPD about five years ago, was the first patient treated at Penn Highlands with the new Zephyr Valve.
“When he came to me, his only desire was that he wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle and dance with her at her wedding without oxygen, and he did it,” said Dr. Sandeep Bansal, medical director of The Lung Center and Intensive Care Services at Penn Highlands. “We treated him in February and within about four weeks, he improved so much that he was able to do all that.”
Bansal estimated that The Lung Center has treated 30 patients with severe emphysema or COPD with this innovative lung treatment over the past year.
“It’s not for everyone,” said Bansal, noting that a patient must go through a series of tests, including a breathing test, certain exercise testing, and sometimes cardiac testing to determine if he or she qualifies for this treatment.
This one-time 30-60 minute procedure is completed during a simple bronchoscopy that doesn’t require any cutting or incisions, said Bansal.
During the procedure, four tiny valves, on average, are placed in the airways to block off the diseased parts of the lungs where air becomes trapped. Keeping air from being trapped in the diseased parts of the lungs allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and take in more air. This results in patients being able to breathe easier and experience less shortness of breath.
“We’ve seen tremendous benefits, tremendous results with the majority of the patients,” said Bansal. “Providing our communities with cutting-edge treatment options is a priority for us at The Lung Center. Our patients deserve to have access to this level of life-saving care right here, close to home, and it is our privilege and mission to provide it.”