Endobronchial Valve Therapy

Endobronchial valve therapy enhances lung function and improves the quality of life for individuals with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema.

Endobronchial valve therapy aims to allow you to breathe easier and feel better doing everyday tasks. The potential benefits of this therapy are:

  • Improved breathing, measured by your lung function.
  • Improved quality of life.
  • Increased activity and exercise levels.
  • Living longer in better overall health.

Individual responses to endobronchial valve therapy vary, and factors, including your health history and the severity of your COPD and emphysema, also influence the outcome.

The FDA-approved endobronchial valve therapy used at UI Health is called bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVR). Approximately 25,000 people globally have received this treatment. This treatment may help ease symptoms for many patients with advanced emphysema.

How does this procedure work?

If you suffer from COPD and emphysema, you may struggle to catch your breath when participating in everyday tasks. Endobronchial valve therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require any cutting or incisions. During this procedure, a doctor places small valves the size of a pencil eraser into the lungs’ airways using a bronchoscope, a thin tube with a camera. These one-way valves reduce lung hyperinflation by allowing trapped air to escape, lifting pressure off the diaphragm to enhance breathing.

What to expect during this procedure?

A typical endobronchial valve therapy procedure:

  • Starts with the doctor giving you medicine to fall asleep.
  • Your doctor will then use a bronchoscope, a small tube with a camera attached, that will go through your nose or mouth to the affected airways in your lungs.
  • The bronchoscope will place an average of four valves in the targeted lobes of your lungs.
  • The entire procedure takes about one hour, and recovery time is shorter than open surgery. You will still need time to rest and recover by staying in the hospital for two to three nights following your procedure.
  • After the procedure, you will continue to take medications as prescribed by your doctor for your condition.

Who is eligible for this procedure?

Generally, patients who should be evaluated for endobronchial valve therapy are those who:

  • Have a confirmed diagnosis of COPD and emphysema.
  • Have to stop and catch their breath often, even when taking their medication as prescribed.
  • Have a reduced lung function (FEV1< 45% and RV > 175% predicted).

These are general criteria that your physician should evaluate to determine if you are an eligible candidate for endobronchial valve therapy. A simple set of tests is required to determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment. Tests may include but are not limited to pulmonary function testing (PFTs), a CT scan, ABG (blood test), a 6-minute walk test, an echocardiogram, and a perfusion scan.

To make an appointment with the UI Health COPD Program, request an appointment online or call 312.996.3300.