Less is more, when it comes to diseased lung tissue

The enlarged and distended lungs of an emphysema patient before surgery.Known as lung-volume reduction surgery, the procedure improves overall health and quality of life for people with end-stage emphysema. Now lung surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that the positive effects last for as long as five years in more than half of all patients. It is not a cure for emphysema, but studies suggest that the surgery can increase breathing capacity by more than 50 percent. The procedure was developed a decade ago at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In select patients with disease that is localized to certain areas of the lung, it is possible to remove the most diseased portions of lung tissue and provide more room for the lung to expand inside the chest cavity.