Breathing Easier With Emphysema

Right now, nearly 6-million people in the U.S. are having a hard time catching their breath. Severe emphysema strangles the life out of energetic people. Traditionally, drugs, inhalers, a lung transplant or a massive surgery were the only ways to help. As Robyn Haines reports, doctors are testing a new option, no surgery needed. In the new procedure, doctors place umbrella-like bronchial valves in the airway. They re-direct airflow away from the diseased regions of the lung and toward the healthy parts. Dr. D. Kyle Hogarth works at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He says, “If you could sort of shut those regions down, you would allow the good lungs, the regions of the lung to do more work. It's clearly a lot easier to put a device in the airway than it is to have your chest cut open.” In a European trial, experts found the valves were safe to use and improved quality of life. The valves are in the final phase of testing in the U.S.