FDA Approves Zephyr Endobronchial Valve for Treating COPD Emphysema
In June, 2018, the Pulmonx Corporation announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve for treating patients with emphysema, which is an incurable life-threatening type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Zephyr Valve Trial
A new lung treatment with a tiny Zephyr valve implanted in the lungs improves breathing for millions suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Results of the LIBERATE trial headed by Dr. Gerard Criner, Chair and Professor of Thoracic Medicine and Surgery at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, that tested the Zephyr valve on patients with severe emphysema showed positive results. People could breathe better, were less breathless and were able to be more physically active. The Zephyr Trial was also carried out at the Royal Brompton Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals in London, UK and were so good that people with COPD who could not walk, talk or carry out their household chores could now do these things thanks to this surgical implant. The results of these trials were published July 1, 2017 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine
Zephyr Valve Improves Quality of Life for People with COPD
Basically, the Zephyr is a one-way valve 4-7 millimeters long, which prevents airflow into the damaged part of a lung, while at the same time allowing the escape of harmful fluids and gas. It takes pressure off the abdomen and allows for better breathing. The valve allows healthier parts of the lung to expand and improves function. Patients are less breathless, can do more things physically and basically this procedure improves the quality of their lives.
Surgical Procedure Implants the Valves in the Lungs
The exterior of the valve is composed of titanium and nickel, while the inside is made of a soft silicone inner tube. If both lungs are damaged two valves are surgically implanted in each lung with a bronchoscope which is a tube with a camera at its end. This is threaded into the lungs via the mouth so there are no surgical incisions. This is a far safer procedure than lung volume reduction surgery, which is not without risk and often has a poor or fatal outcome. Also, in cases where the Zephyr does not succeed to relieve the breathless suffering of people with COPD, it can easily be removed by this same bronchoscope procedure.
Zephyr Valve Expected to Replace Need for Lung Volume Reduction Surgery and Lung Transplants
This breakthrough is expected to replace the need for radical lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplants. The Zephyr valve can achieve the same results as lung surgery but without the major risks.
Zephyr Valve Procedure is Mainly for People Suffering from Emphysema
The procedure specifically treats emphysema, one of the two major types of COPD. The other main type of COPD is chronic bronchitis, which is usually treated with bronchodilators.
Assessment Tools from Pulmonx Corporation
Besides the Zephyr valve, Pulmonx also offers special tools so that doctors can identify which patients are most likely to benefit from the Zephyr valve such as the Pulmonx Chartis® Pulmonary Assessment System and StratX® Lung Analysis Platform.
More than 15 million Americans are afflicted with COPD and 3.5 million of them suffer from emphysema. The main cause for about 80% of patients with COPD is cigarette smoking, so COPD is in a large measure a preventable disease. Patients with COPD who continue to smoke should be encouraged to quit. Those who have emphysema suffer from what is called hyperinflation whereby air that is inhaled becomes trapped inside the lungs and cannot be exhaled. This prevents new air from coming into the lungs and the patients suffer from a lack of oxygen and very severe shortness of breath.
This Zephyr valve is good news for the millions of Americans suffering from emphysema and should bring hope to many of them that they will be able to return to normal activities like bathing, dressing and other routine things. Also, some of them may be able to talk better, as many are too short of breath to be able to speak properly.
The Need for Long-term Care
Many patients with severe COPD end up needing to go to a skilled long-term rehabilitation and nursing facility such as the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Van Duyn has a Respiratory Wellness unit that is staffed by professional respiratory therapists. Van Duyn also has wonderful recreational therapy programs and the air in Syracuse has been rated as being among the cleanest cities in America for fine particle air pollution.