Two million people suffer with emphysema in the United States.
It is a debilitating disease that causes irreversible damage to the lungs, making it hard to breathe and difficult to engage in normal activities.
Now, a new therapy could help folks breathe easier without surgery.
Keeping up with her grandson Justin has not been easy for Linda Creighton.
Linda says, "I would be completely out of breath."
The former three-pack-a-day smoker developed severe emphysema a few years ago and was told a lung transplant was her only option.
Linda says, “I just, I guess went into denial, because, I just, know I'm not ready to take that kind of a step."
Now, Doctor Gerard Criner, Director at Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, is testing a new non-invasive treatment.
Dr. Criner says, “it has the potential to be huge."
Doctors use a bronchoscope to deliver ten tiny coils into the diseased lung. The coils work by compressing the lungs to help restore elasticity.
Dr. Criner says, “When it compresses the lung tissue, it actually re-tensions the lung. That increases the recoil of the lung to expand the small airways."
Patients feel a difference just one hour after the coils are placed. Studies, done in Europe, show lung function improves 18 percent on average.
After just one month, Linda could walk 60 percent more than before.
Linda says, "It really has changed my life. It has given me back a comfortable lifestyle of doing things that I normally wanted to do like taking care of my grandson."
Patients in the renew study receive two sets of coils placed four months apart.
The multi-center study is currently enrolling patients all over the country.
TOPIC: BREATHING EASIER-EMPHYSEMA COILS
REPORT: MB # 3739
BACKGROUND: Emphysema occurs when air sacs in the lungs are destroyed gradually, which will make a patient progressively short of breath. It is one of the many diseases known collectively as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As emphysema worsens, it turns the spherical air sacs, which look like a cluster of grapes, into large pockets with gaping holes in their inner walls. This results in the reduction of the surface area of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that reaches the bloodstream. The elastic fibers that open the small airways leading to the air sacs slowly get destroyed as well. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/emphysema/basics/definition/CON-20014218)
SIGNS: A patient can have emphysema for years without knowing it. Shortness of breath will begin gradually. Then, patients may start avoiding activities that can cause them to get winded. Eventually, emphysema will cause shortness of breath even while resting. Immediate medical attention is needed if a patient is so short of breath that they can't speak, their lips or fingernails turn gray or blue, their heartbeat is usually fast, or if they're not mentally alert. Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema and treatment can only slow the progression, not reverse the damage. Long-term exposure to airborne irritants, including tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, air pollution, coal and silica dust, or manufacturing fumes, can cause emphysema too. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/emphysema-symptoms)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Researchers at Temple University are part of a worldwide, multi-site study examining the effects of lung coils on lung tissue. The RePneu Lung Volume Reduction Coils are small, titanium implants which can be put into the lung with a bronchoscope. Generally ten are put into each lung. The coils are straightened out as they are put into the lung, but once inserted they recoil, compressing the diseased lung tissue around it. This compression allows the lung to regain some of the elasticity lost from emphysema. Patients who underwent early trials in Europe had increased breathing ability, decreased breathlessness, and improved quality of life. (Source: http://www.pneumrx.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/LIT0053.A-PatientBrochure-web.pdf)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dr. Gerard Criner
Director, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Director, Temple Lung Center
Temple University School of Medicine