For people with advanced emphysema, the simple act of breathing can be exhausting. Damage to tiny air sacs keeps the lungs inflated, so you feel like there's no room left to take in another breath. Sometimes surgery to cut down the size of the lung helps, but now, a promising new procedure called Biologic Lung Volume Reduction may do the same thing without incisions.
Doctor Gerard Criner says the goal of this new experimental therapy is to make the lung smaller and more efficient by covering it with a medicated gel. Dr. Criner says, "You isolate the area of worse emphysema and then you infuse medication that scars the area, worse emphysema to make it retract, actually wither over time, so it's not occupying so much of the chest".
While the patient is sedated, doctors inject two liquids through a bronchoscope. When combined, the mixture forms a biodegradable hydro gel that is applied to the diseased area of the lung, sealing it off from healthy tissue. Over a period of weeks, the diseased tissue withers away, the lung shrinks, and its function improves. The treatment is still experimental but researchers are hopeful the lung gel will be widely available in about 3 years.