Updated: April 09, 2019 10:45 PM
Created: April 09, 2019 12:00 AM
(ABC 6 News)-- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) impacts millions of people worldwide.
Primarily caused by smoking, it results in breathing difficulties and, in extreme cases, death.
However, a new procedure for treating a form of COPD is now available in the U.S. A Pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester was one of the first in the country to perform it on a patient.
“Thus far, particularly those with Emphysema, medications haven’t worked that well and the only alternative for them is very invasive surgical procedures where they literally remove part of the abnormal lung,” said Dr. Eric Edell with Mayo Clinic. “Now, there’s a minimally-invasive procedure called ‘Endoscopic Volume Reduction’.”
Wayne Peterson started smoking when he was 18-years-old. In 2003, he was diagnosed with Emphysema. “My chest would hurt, I'd work so hard just to get a breath in and out,” he said.
Two years ago, Peterson was put on oxygen. “They [Doctor’s in Texas] wanted to send me to hospice because they said they couldn't do anymore,” he said.
So Peterson decided to pack up and move from Texas to Blooming Prairie. “I came up here because I'm from here originally,” he said. “I knew about Mayo Clinic. I thought if anyone can do anything, its Mayo.”
His timing was perfect because last summer, the FDA approved a device used for Endoscopic Volume Reduction.
Two weeks ago, Peterson became one of the first in the country to get the procedure. “There's no cutting, quick recovery,” he said. “I was using 7 liters of oxygen a day now I am down to 2.”
“These patients, they can't get rid of air,” said Dr. Edell. “So this technique, this technology is putting in a little valve. It's a one-way valve that lets air out of the lung but doesn't let it back in. By reducing the volume of air, the diaphragm is able to come up and work much more effectively.”
“I think it’s wonderful that we continue to research and explore treatment options for people with lung disease and people with COPD in specific,” said Jill Heins, the Nation Director of Lung Health with the American Lung Association.
As for Peterson, he is enjoying the little things in life … like being outdoors."Before I couldn't enjoy it because I was gasping for air,” he said. “They [Mayo Clinic Doctors] didn't give up on me. I owe everything to them.”
Dr. Edell says there’s no evidence this procedure extends life-expectancy, but the focus is on quality of life. There are six Mayo Clinic Pulmonologists in Rochester, two in Arizona and one in Florida able to perform the procedure.
Endoscopic Volume Reduction has been available in Europe and a few other countries for a decade and more than 15,000 patients have been treated worldwide.
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