AHN Offers Innovative Treatment for Severe Emphysema

Implanted Mechanical Valves in the Lung Relieve Breathing Difficulties

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For those in the western Pennsylvania region who are living with severe emphysema, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) interventional pulmonologists Sohini Ghosh, MD, and Aarthi Ganesh, MD, are now offering a groundbreaking, minimally invasive bronchoscopic treatment that may help optimize lung function and improve a patient’s quality of life. 

Severe emphysema is an advanced, progressive form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that affects millions of Americans. While primarily caused by long-term smoking, severe emphysema can also be caused by prolonged exposure to air pollutants in the workplace and/or at home. The disease is marked by a significantly reduced breathing capacity that limits a patient’s ability to live a healthy, active life. 

Traditional treatments for patients with severe emphysema include the use of bronchodilators (inhalers), oxygen therapy and/or participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. When these modalities prove to be ineffective, patients may be considered for lung volume reduction surgery to remove the damaged area of the lung, or even lung transplantation. 

As an alternative to major surgery for those who have not responded well to medications and other non-invasive conventional therapies, Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Ganesh are among just a handful of interventional pulmonologists in Pennsylvania offering patients access to a new, minimally invasive treatment for severe emphysema using the Zephyr® Endobronchial Valve from Pulmonx. The small, implantable device is intended to target the most diseased parts of the lung and relieve breathing difficulty associated with the disease. 

On average, four Zephyr Endobronchial Valves are implanted into the lung airways using a flexible bronchoscope and with no incision required. The one-way valves allow air that has become trapped in a diseased section of the lung to escape, reducing the hyperinflation in that lobe of the lung. This allows the healthier parts of the lung to function better and results in patients being able to breathe easier and experience less shortness of breath. Patients are required to stay in the hospital for three nights following the procedure for monitoring.

Results from multiple randomized clinical trials of the Zephyr Valve have demonstrated clinically meaningful and statistically significant benefits of the technology, including improvements in lung function, exercise tolerance and quality of life, and reduced symptoms of shortness of breath. The device received FDA approval in 2018. 

“Among the many adverse health effects related to long-term smoking and exposure to air pollutants, chronic shortness of breath is the most debilitating to patients,” said Dr. Ghosh. “The symptoms of severe emphysema can completely upend a person’s quality of life by inflicting extraordinary physical limitations related to a lack of optimal lung function. This novel treatment and technology developed by Pulmonx represents a potential lifeline for many patients, and we are pleased to be offering it in our region.”

To schedule an appointment and learn more about the Zephyr Valve treatment, patients should call 412-442-2100. To learn more about pulmonology care at AHN, visit www.ahn.org/pulmonary-disease.

About Allegheny Health Network 

Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, cardiovascular disease, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,600 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.