A study at Royal Brompton Hospital has found that using airway valves to treat people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can improve lung function and exercise capacity.
It is estimated that more than three million people in the UK are living with COPD, an umbrella term for a collection of lung conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The progressive disease makes it difficult for patients to breathe due to damaged airways and air sacs in the lungs.
Despite best treatment with standard medicines and pulmonary rehabilitation, many people with the condition experience increasing breathlessness and are limited in what they can do on a day-to-day basis.
The trial at Royal Brompton, called BeLieVeR-HIFi (bronchoscopic lung volume reduction with endobronchial valves for patients with heterogeneous emphysema and intact interlobar fissures), involved placing one-way endobronchial valves into the most damaged part of the lung using a bronchoscope (a thin, flexible, fibre-optic tube).