New lung valve is opening airways for COPD patients

Twenty four million Americans suffer from some form of COPD.

It is now the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Now, a new device is helping these patients live longer and breathe easier.

Charlene Kelly may have to schlep an oxygen tank, but she says breathing is actually easier these days.

Charlene Kelly says, “I can feel that my breathing has improved over the last four years."

That is because of a new intra-bronchial airway valve. A flexible tube with a camera at the end of it helps to guide a small, umbrella-shaped valve inside the airways of her lung. The device redirects air from unhealthy to healthy parts of the lung.

Doctor Kyle Hogarth, Director of Bronchoscopy and Assistant Professor of Medicine at The University of Chicago, says, "I definitely feel like we've helped some people have much better lives."

Charlene says prior to getting the IBV her emphysema prevented her from doing, well, almost anything really.

Charlene explains, "I didn't sleep well, um. I'd wake up in the morning and I would be as tired as I was went to bed."

Despite her discomfort, traditional surgery to remove the damaged parts of her lungs was just too risky and the downtime is intense.

Dr. Hogarth says, “The recovery time for a lung surgery is weeks. The recovery time for a bronchoscopy is a day."

This new valve will last for about 14 years.

Dr. Hogarth says, "ten years from now we'll go and replace them for her, maybe we'll have even better technology then. Oh heck I hope by then I’m growing lungs, I’ll just give her a new lung."

Risks associated with the new lung valve include pneumonia and irritation.

The irritation often triggers coughing and excess mucus.

Doctors say the valve can be easily removed if patients experience these symptoms.

The new lung valve is entering into its final phases of trial in the US and it is already being used in Europe.


REPORT: MB # 3742

BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a cluster of lung diseases that block airflow when exhaling, making it very difficult to breathe. There are two main conditions that make up COPD: chronic asthmatic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people have both. Chronic asthmatic bronchitis causes narrowing of the airways that lead to the lungs and inflammation, making the patient wheeze and cough. Emphysema damages the tiny air sacs in the lungs. It gradually destroys the inner walls of the air sac clusters, reducing the amount of surface area available to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Shortness of breath will occur because the chest wall muscles have to work harder to exhale. Most COPD is the result from long-term smoking. Damage to the lungs can't be reversed. So, treatment aims to control symptoms and minimize further damage. (Source:
SYMPTOMS: Symptoms don't appear until there is a great deal of lung damage. Patients with COPD are also likely to experience exacerbations when symptoms worsen over time. Symptoms will vary because there are different lung conditions that form COPD. Most people will have at least one, but usually more than one, of these symptoms: shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing, and chest tightness. Complications can occur with COPD; respiratory infections, high blood pressure, heart problems, and depression. (Source:
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Currently in clinical trials, the intra-bronchial airway valve (IBV) is designed to help those suffering from COPD breathe easier. The IBV is a small, umbrella-shaped valve which, when in place, helps redirect air from unhealthy parts of the lung to more healthy parts. So far in the trials, those with the valves have shown improved lung function, less shortness of breath, and improved quality of life. The procedure can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, followed by a 24 hour recovery period at home. The valves can also be easily removed. (Source: and Dr. Kyle Hogarth)

Dr. Kyle Hogarth
Director of Bronchoscopy and Assistant Professor of Medicine
University Of Chicago
(773) 702-4773

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