Relief for Victims of Lung Disease Is Found in a Ketchup Bottle
Breathlessness can be crippling when the reason behind it is a long-term lung disease. These patients are usually housebound and not capable of taking few steps without the need for air.
However, these people with this distressing condition might experience life transformation. That can happen thanks to a small valve implant. This implant works in almost same way as the easy-squeeze bottle tops of ketchup.
The silicone and alloy device is for HNS patients that have emphysema and other different incurable respiratory issues, known as COPD, i.e., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
How This Works
These patients have loss of elasticity and deformity in lung tissue. That means that the air can go into the lung, but the air is not able to be pushed back out.
The tiny valve implant is placed deep in the bronchioles (tiny branches in the lungs) and allows the air to flow. However, that is possible in one direction only. This concept is very similar to the functioning of the tuber tops of the ketchup bottles.
In fact, this forcefully cuts off the areas of the lungs that are diseased. Even though the volume of lungs is smaller, the valve still improves breathing. How this works? The air only flows through the healthy areas of the lungs.
Recently 2 studies show promising results. One of the studies reports a 30 % improvement when it comes to COPD patients and their lung function in comparison to the patients that had standard treatments.
The second study came to the discovery that 43 patients with serious emphysema had clinically meaningful improvements regarding their lung function, quality of life and exercise tolerance.
This happened just 3 months after they had this valve implanted. In fact, around 1.2 million Britons have COPD, which is an umbrella term for many lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis.
Damage caused by smoking can induce alveoli (small oxygen-absorbing surfaces in the lungs) to lose their function and break down.
The oxygen is not able to absorb, and the air traps within the lungs and stretches them. This is an increase in volume that adds pressure on the muscles that are around the organs and that makes it harder to breathe.
Doctors often recommend surgery in order to eliminate the damaged sections of the lungs so the healthy sectors can work better. However, this procedure carries risks, and also, it may mean a prolonged stay in the hospital.
Also, other surgical procedures use forms of energy such as heat in order to collapse the damaged sections of the lungs and in that way reduce the volume.
On the other hand, this new procedure is good since the surgeons can close off the diseased sections of the lung. They are able to do that without having to remove or cause further damage to the tissue.
The Zephyr Valves
These Zephyr valves are made of collapsible titanium and nickel alloy wire outer “basket.” This is not the same as a stent in heart surgery that actually encircles the silicone inner valve.
This flexible material is created in a particular way to make a one-way valve. The implantation takes around 45 minutes, and this particular procedure can be done under general anesthetic or sedation.
Surgeons use bronchoscope (thin flexible tube) to implant the valve pushing it into the lung through the mouth and windpipe.
When the valve is in the right position, what the wire basket does is expanding and holding the device in place.
The Results from Recent Studies
The consultant respiratory physician at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, Dr. Samuel Kemp, made a recent study using the Zephyr valves.
According to him after the procedure, the patients could walk further, breathe more easily, and dress on their own. In general, they will improve their quality of life.
People are afraid to do any type of exercise since they are breathless. However, with this procedure, they got their confidence back by improving their quality of life.
All that was done without surgery and may be suitable for more patients that have emphysema.
The consultant thoracic surgeon at Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Alan Kirk, says that certain patients respond well. Also that this is reversible unlike some techniques for surgery for lung volume reduction.
Around 5% of the patients have issues like displaced valves and infection. However that can be easily solved by taking the valve out.
For 3 days there is monitoring of patients, because there is 1 in 5 risks of a collapsed lung. Two years ago there was not much to offer to the patients, but this revitalized the approach.
Example for Successful Story
In 2006, a retired facilities manager, David Chalmers, 69 years old from Salisbury in Wiltshire, got emphysema diagnosis after a serious chest infection.
Immediately he quit smoking and took suitable medication. But that did not improve his condition, and in fact, with time it got worse. With time he was not capable of washing his car or working in his garden, and he was only able to walk around 150 yards.
In January, David as part of the trial had valves fitted at Royal Brompton. David reports that now he can do his work at the garden and climb the stairs without making breaks.
This is an example of amazing improvement and successful story.