Mayo Clinic First In Florida To Offer Nonsurgical Emphysema Treatment

Mar 26, 2019
Originally published on March 28, 2019 1:35 pm

Mayo Clinic in Florida, located in Jacksonville, said it’s the first medical center in the state to perform a minimally invasive procedure meant improve the quality of life for patients with severe emphysema.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved endoscopic lung volume reduction — or, shrinking the diseased parts of lungs so the healthy parts can function better. Only a few medical centers nationwide offer the treatment, according to Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy, a Mayo Clinic interventional pulmonologist, said his team puts a scope down the patient’s throat and then deflates portions of the lungs.

Patients must stay in the hospital for observation for three days after the procedure and stay locally for a week if traveling from out of town. Over the course of the next three months, he said, their quality of life should slowly but greatly improve. 

For patients with chronic lung disease, he said, tasks like showering and shopping for groceries can feel extremely laborious.

“After this treatment, those limitations will be much less,” he said. Many patients will be able to start exercising, he said.

Compared to surgical lung volume reduction procedures, this one has fewer side effects, less pain, a shorter hospital stay and a lower mortality rate.

“This treatment does not cure emphysema,” Dr. Fernandez-Bussy said. “What it does is improves the patient's quality of life by improving their ability to breathe. They will be able to take bigger breaths and subsequently need less oxygen if they are currently on oxygen, or possibly come off oxygen altogether. Patients with advanced emphysema often also have other medical challenges, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity, which make them high-risk for surgical procedures.”

He said not every lung disease patient will be a good candidate for endoscopic lung volume reduction. But Mayo Clinic offers other options that may work for them. 

“I do think that Mayo Clinic is a fantastic place because it can offer all the range of diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities for this advanced disease,” he said.

That specialization and comprehensive approach likely contributed to Mayo Clinic's recent top ranking. Newsweek declared the Minnesota-based hospital system No. 1 in the world last week. 

Contact Dr. Fernandez-Bussy's office or request an appointment here

Hear Dr. Fernandez-Bussy talk about the procedure: 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 16 million Americans live with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, which include emphysema. The death rate from COPD complications has doubled since 1970.

Contact reporter Jessica Palombo at 904-358-6315, jpalombo@wjct.org or on Twitter at @JessicaPubRadio.

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