New Option for People with COPD: Minimally Invasive BLVR

January 19th, 2022  Topics: Lung

A lung condition like emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tends to get worse over time. When it begins interfering with routine tasks like walking, cooking or getting dressed, it’s likely developed into the most serious type, known as severe or stage 4 emphysema.

Unfortunately, Emphysema doesn’t have a cure. But local people with severe emphysema can take advantage of a newer minimally invasive treatment that can help improve their breathing and overall lung function.

The treatment, called bronchial lung volume reduction (BLVR), is now available locally at Grand View Health. It uses the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve, a technology that received breakthrough medical status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018.

BLVR treatment is used on a section of the lung, called a lobe, that is most diseased with emphysema. During the procedure, performed at Grand View Health by interventional pulmonologist Tuhina Raman, MD, with CritAcuity Medical Group, a doctor places three to five Zephyr valves inside the lung using a catheter. The valves allow trapped air to escape the lobe until the lung volume of the treated lobe is reduced, thereby improving a person’s ability to breathe more comfortably.

The entire procedure takes between 30 – 60 minutes. Patients typically spend three days in the hospital and start to experience breathing improvements within the first 45 days after treatment. Your pulmonologist can let you know whether you’re a candidate for BLVR.

The treatment is helping to make a difference for Barry Karver, 64, of Green Lane. Karver spent 36 years working in a quarry and also smoked a pack a day for nearly 40 years. He’s battled COPD for 10 years and regularly sees Kim Ryan and the team at Grand View Health Pulmonary Rehab. Ryan recommended Karver see Dr. Raman about BLVR.

Karver had the treatment in October 2021, with Dr. Raman placing four Zephyr valves into his right lung. A few weeks after the procedure, Karver enjoyed a favorite pastime: bear hunting. “[BLVR] isn’t a magic wand, but every day since the treatment I can feel I’m getting better,” Karver says. “I went from using three liters of oxygen to two during pulmonary rehab, and I’m building myself back up again. I’m hoping to get off oxygen altogether.”

BLVR is one of many minimally invasive procedures offered at Grand View Health to treat a variety of health conditions. To learn more about the options available to you, visit https://www.gvh.org/minimally-invasive-robotic-surgery/