Implanting coils in the lungs may help improve the ability to exercise in people with severe emphysema, a new study suggests.
Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that damages the airways and makes it difficult to breathe.
Current treatments for severe emphysema have limited effectiveness. Lung volume reduction surgery can help, but carries a risk of complications and death, the study authors explained.
Dr. Gaetan Deslee, of Reims University Hospital in France, and colleagues recruited 100 patients for the study. Fifty patients received usual care — rehabilitation and bronchodilators with or without inhaled corticosteroids and oxygen.
The remaining 50 received usual care and also had coils placed in their lungs. The researchers said the coils were placed in the lungs using an endoscope — a slender, flexible device inserted into the mouth. The study was conducted at 10 university hospitals in France.
After six months, more than one-third of the patients in the coil group had improvement of at least 59 yards in a 6-minute walk test. Just 9 percent of those in the usual care group had a similar improvement.
The patients in the coil group also had a significant decrease in lung hyperinflation and sustained improvement in quality of life. The average one-year per-patient cost difference between the two groups of patients was nearly $48,000, the study showed.
Further research is needed to determine the long-term benefits and cost effectiveness of the coil treatment, the researchers concluded.
The study was published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The American Lung Association has more about emphysema.