Oxygen Therapy and Surgery for Emphysema

Treating Emphysema With Oxygen Therapy

If you have severe emphysema and low levels of oxygen in your blood, you are not getting enough oxygen on your own. As a result, your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy to help with your shortness of breath. You may need extra oxygen all the time or some of the time. For some people with severe emphysema, using extra oxygen for more than 15 hours a day can help them:
 
  • Do tasks or activities with less shortness of breath
  • Protect the heart and other organs from damage
  • Sleep more during the night and improve alertness during the day
  • Live longer.
     

Surgery for Emphysema

For some people with severe emphysema, surgery may be recommended to treat emphysema. Surgery is usually done for people who have:
 
  • Severe symptoms
  • Not improved from medications
  • A hard time breathing most of the time.
     
The two types of surgeries considered to treat severe emphysema are:
 
  • Lung reduction surgery: People with emphysema may find relief from their symptoms with this surgical procedure. It often eliminates the need for oxygen and significantly enhances breathing function. This technique, which is a minimally invasive procedure, requires two or three small incisions made in the chest and a tiny camera inserted through one of the incisions to view the lung. Through another incision, a special stapling device is inserted to cut portions of the lung so that the healthy lung tissue has more room to expand. People need to undergo careful testing prior to consideration of this surgery.
     
  • Lung transplant: A lung transplant may be done for some people with severe emphysema. A transplant involves removing the lung of a person with emphysema and replacing it with a healthy lung from a donor.
     

Information on Emphysema

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