Lung Volume Reduction Surgery

Tampa General Hospital’s Advanced Lung Disease and Transplant Center is one of the most active lung transplant centers in the southeastern United States. With a firm commitment to advancing the treatment of pulmonary disease, our researchers continue to explore new ways to preserve the lung as an alternative to transplantation.

One notable example is lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), an alternative to a lung transplant for certain patients with advanced pulmonary disease. The goal of the procedure is to remove the most damaged portion of the lung, allowing the remaining portion to function more efficiently and improving the patient’s breathing ability and quality of life.

What conditions are treated with LRVS?

In some cases, lung volume reduction surgery may be considered to address lung damage caused by severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The best candidates for LRVS:

  • Have significant damage in the upper part of a lung
  • Are younger than 75
  • Have not smoked for a least six months
  • Are unable to exercise well after completing pulmonary rehabilitation

Before proceeding with lung volume reduction surgery, the patient is thoroughly evaluated by a pulmonologist and a thoracic surgeon. The required pre-op testing includes:

  • Pulmonary function testing
  • A six-minute-walk test
  • Arterial blood gas testing
  • A CT scan of the lungs
  • Electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

What does LRVS involve?

Several different surgical techniques can be used to perform lung volume reduction surgery. These include:

  • Median sternotomy – The surgeon accesses the lung through an incision in the chest
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopy – The surgeon inserts a tiny camera (thoracoscope) and surgical instruments into the chest through one or more small incisions in the chest wall
  • Thoracotomy – The surgeon makes an incision between the ribs, then separates the ribs to access the lung

What to expect with LRVS

After lung volume reduction surgery, the in-hospital recovery time can vary depending on whether the patient has any underlying health conditions and/or any surgical complications, such as air leaks. A chest tube will be placed to help drain escaping air from the body. Although most air leaks heal within seven days, a second surgery is sometimes needed to resolve a persistent air leak.

Other, less common complications of LRVS include:

  • Infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart attack

Is LRVS effective?

Studies confirm that lung volume reduction surgery is effective in the short and intermediate term for improving pulmonary function in certain patients with advanced lung disease. More specifically, the procedure can increase lung capacity, improve breathing ability and enhance quality of life.

Benefit from our surgical expertise

TGH is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as One of the Nation's Best Hospitals for Pulmonology & Lung Surgery for 2023-24. When you entrust your care to us, you will benefit from our collaborative approach. We will strive to ensure you have a seamless journey from diagnosis through treatment with guidance from a single team of multidisciplinary providers. To schedule an appointment with a specialist in our Advanced Lung Disease and Transplant Center, contact us at 800-505-7769.