New, Minimally Invasive Procedure may Improve Quality of Life for Patients with Emphysema

Nov 27, 2012, 15:24 ET from Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Medicine® is the only center in Chicago participating in this trial

CHICAGO, Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- November is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month. COPD, also known as emphysema, is the third leading cause of death in the United States, only behind heart disease and cancer. Right now, the only studied interventions that prolong life for patients with severe COPD are supplemental oxygen in people with low oxygen levels and lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) in appropriately selected individuals. But, there is a new investigational, minimally invasive treatment that pulmonologists are hoping will provide the same benefits as having major surgery.

"This could be a game changer for individuals living with emphysema," says Ravi Kalhan, MD, pulmonologist and director of the asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) program at Northwestern Medicine. "This FDA approved trial is an important step forward for the COPD community. We need to test novel therapies that may improve the lives of people living with COPD, and our program at Northwestern is thrilled to offer participation in this study to our patients."

One of the major reasons that people living with COPD feel breathless when they do things is called lung hyperinflation. This is when too much air gets stuck in the lungs of individuals with emphysema. It occurs because under normal circumstances, the lungs are like a balloon – they are rubbery and elastic, and when air goes into them, their natural response is to deflate and let the air back out. With emphysema, the lungs lose their elasticity so the deflation is diminished.  LVRS works by surgically removing the most severe areas of emphysema from the lung so that the other areas, which do not have as much diminished elasticity, can work more efficiently. At Northwestern, a study is being started to investigate whether an experimental device can achieve these similar benefits.

The RePneu Lung Volume Reduction Coil (RePneu LVRC®) System (PneumRx, Inc., Mountain View, CA) is a less invasive device intended to improve the lung function in patients suffering from emphysema. The coil is made of metal and implanted in the airways of the lung. It works by squeezing the diseased portions of the lung, and by doing so, the coil creates more room for the healthier areas of the lung to expand and function better.

"Our goal with this new, investigational procedure is for patients to receive the same benefits as if they had major surgery," said Colin Gillespie, MD, pulmonologist and director of interventional pulmonology at Northwestern Medicine. "The hope is that patients with emphysema will have an improved quality of life, better exercise capacity and improved lung function at substantially less risk."

The study will only be conducted in 30 centers across the county, and Northwestern Medicine is the only center in Chicago. Northwestern investigators include Malcolm DeCamp, MD, Ravi Kalhan, MD, Colin Gillespie, MD and Sharon Rosenberg, MD.

Northwestern Medicine® is the shared vision that joins Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and the Feinberg School in a collaborative effort to transform medicine through quality healthcare, academic excellence and scientific discovery.

If you are interested in participating in this investigational trial, please call the study coordinator, Danielle Barkema, at 312-695-4828. To learn more about pulmonology and critical care at Northwestern Memorial, visit us online at

About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 894-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 205-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois.

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital has 1,705 affiliated physicians and 6,769 employees.  Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.

Northwestern Memorial has nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence. And, Northwestern Memorial ranks 12th in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2012 Honor Roll of "America's Best Hospitals". The hospital is ranked in 12 of 16 clinical specialties rated by U.S. News and is No. 1 in Illinois and Chicago in U.S. News' 2012 state and metro rankings, respectively. For 13 years running, Northwestern Memorial has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 13 years. 

SOURCE Northwestern Medicine