Surgery for COPD

Your healthcare provider will recommend a treatment strategy for COPD (chronic pulmonary obstructive disease) that helps relieve your symptoms and helps you breathe easier. Treatment is different for each person and is based on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. For people with severe COPD, surgery may be recommended as a COPD treatment. Surgery is usually done for patients who have:
  • Severe symptoms
  • Symptoms that do not improve with medications
  • A very hard time breathing most of the time.
The two types of surgeries considered in COPD treatment are:
  • Bullectomy
  • Lung transplant.
A bullectomy may be done for some people with COPD who have severe symptoms and giant bullae. A bulla is a large air sac (the plural form is bullae). A giant bulla may compress the good lung. This surgery removes the bulla and may make it easier for more oxygen to get into the blood because the good lung can expand. However, this surgery is indicated in only a few patients.
Lung Transplant
A lung transplant may be done for some patients with very severe COPD. The transplant involves removing the lung of a person with COPD and replacing it with a healthy lung from a donor.
(Click COPD Treatment for more information on surgery for COPD, including detail on when surgery is recommended. This article also describes other treatment options for COPD.)
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