Pa Doctors Test New Emphysema Treatment

Published 03/04 2014 02:15PM

Updated 03/04 2014 05:58PM

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - Two million people suffer with emphysema in this country, a debilitating disease that causes irreversible damage to the lungs, making it hard to breathe for patients and difficult to engage in normal activities. Now, doctors at two Pennsylvania Universities are using new therapy that could help folks breathe easier without surgery.

Keeping up with her grandson Justin has not been easy for Linda Creighton. “I would be completely out of breath,” Linda said.

The ex-3 pack-a-day smoker developed severe emphysema a few years ago and was told a lung transplant was her only option. “I guess I went into denial because I know I’m not ready to take that kind of a step,” Linda said.

Now, Dr. Gerard Criner is testing a new non-invasive treatment. “It has the potential to be huge,” Dr. Gerard Criner, Director, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Director, Temple Lung Center, Temple University School of Medicine said.

Doctors use a bronchoscope to deliver ten tiny coils into the diseased lung. The coils compress the lungs to help restore elasticity. “When it compresses the lung tissue, it actually re-tensions the lung. That increases the recoil of the lung to expand the small airways,” Dr. Criner said.

He says patients feel a difference just one hour after the coils are placed; studies done in Europe show an average 18-percent improvement in lung function.

After just one month, Linda could walk 60 percent more than before. “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,” Linda said.

Patients in the renew study receive two sets of coils placed four months apart. The multi-center study is also enrolling patients at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Complete list of study locations  

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