Houston Methodist is the first hospital in Texas to offer a new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema, a severe form of COPD. The procedure improves patients’ quality of life by allowing them to breathe easier, be less short of breath, and be more active and energetic. The treatment, using the Zephyr® Valve System, is groundbreaking because it is the first FDA approved procedure for emphysema that is minimally invasive (no incision or cutting required).

“We at PCCS along with Houston Methodist Hospital are very excited to have this new treatment option because severe COPD and emphysema patients are often in poor physical condition, struggling with each breath,” states Dr. Lisa Kopas, a pulmonology specialist in Houston.  “Until now, the only other options for these patients were highly invasive treatments such as lung transplantation. This minimally invasive procedure has the potential to be a life changer for patients who remain symptomatic despite optimal medical care.”

Emphysema is a progressive and life-threatening lung disease, and a severe form of COPD (chronic pulmonary obstructive disease). There is no cure and patients live with severe shortness of breath that keeps them from doing simple daily activities like walking, or taking a shower, without pausing to catch their breath or resting. This extreme shortness of breath is caused when air becomes trapped in parts of the lung that are damaged by the disease. This trapped air causes the damaged areas of the lungs to get larger which puts pressure on the healthy parts of the lungs and diaphragm. This procedure places tiny valves in the airways to block off the damaged areas of the lung so air is no longer trapped there. This allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand so patients can breathe more easily.

Patients are already reporting significant improvements in their quality of life. “Getting the Zephyr Valves improved my life beyond what I can measure.  I am now healthy, happy and living life,” explains patient Cynthia Dugas who had the procedure almost two years ago. “I am still feeling great. Everyday tasks like cleaning, showering, or using the blow dryer are no longer a big ordeal! Before I had the valves these little things had become so difficult because of my emphysema, but since the treatment I am breathing so much better and back to doing everyday things with ease.”

The one-time procedure is done during a simple bronchoscopy that requires no cutting or incisions. During this 30-60 minute procedure, 3-5 tiny valves are placed in the airways to block off diseased parts of the lungs. This reduces hyperinflation of the damaged areas of the lung and allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and lift pressure off the diaphragm. This results in patients being less short of breath and have an easier time breathing. In clinical studies, patients treated with Zephyr Valves have been shown to breathe easier, be more active and energetic, be less short of breath, and enjoy a significantly improved quality of life compared to untreated patients.

For more information on this procedure and Zephyr Valves visit www.MyLungsMyLife.com. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Kopas please call: 713.255.4000.

This article ran in the October 2018 issue of the Houston Medical Times.