February 20, 2017

Severe COPD treatment options now available at Alfred Health

Mr Julian Gooi, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Alfred Health, Melbourne 

Alfred Health in Melbourne has a new specialised clinic offering advanced medical and surgical options for people with end-stage emphysema. The options include lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) and non-surgical lung reduction using endobronchial valves. The aim of these treatments is to decrease hyper-inflation of the lungs. Both procedures are not part of routine therapy and are only applicable for patients with severe emphysema who are no longer responding to conventional medical therapy and to delay or defer the need for a lung transplant.

What do the procedures involve?

LVRS is performed as a key-hole operation to remove diseased parts of the lungs. It is most beneficial to patients with upper lobe predominant emphysema and can improve the function of the lungs by up to 30 per cent.
For some patients, non-surgical lung volume reduction can be a better option. Endobronchial valves can be placed in the diseased parts of a lung under general anaesthetic via bronchoscopy. The valves work by stopping air getting into the diseased parts of the lung, which allows the healthy parts of the lung to function more efficiently.

Will this work for me?

Both procedures are only viable for a minority of patients with severe emphysema. In fact, only about one in five patients with emphysema is a good candidate for LVRS. Patients must meet very specific criteria to be considered and may also have symptoms that exclude them from having either procedure. As both these procedures come with serious risks of complications, it is important to discuss treatment options with a specialist respiratory physician.

What are the clinic details?

The Alfred Health outpatient clinic is unique in that it offers patients a streamlined assessment process by having a multidisciplinary medical team on hand to discuss eligibility, procedures and risks. The clinic also caters to patients
from all over Australia. In order to access the clinic, you need a referral letter from your GP or respiratory physician.
You should read the information on the clinic website at https://www.alfredhealth.org.au/services/end-stage-copd-treatment-clinic and discuss this with your GP or respiratory physician. The website also lists the test results, scans
and x-rays you need to take with you to the clinic.