Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., with 11 million Americans diagnosed with the disease. COPD is progressive, and over time it may evolve into the most severe form of the disease, emphysema, where patients struggle to breathe. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center/LA BioMed is one of 24 centers worldwide that studied a new approach to treating emphysema, Zephyr® Endobronchial Valves, that are designed to be a long-term solution for patients. Results from this LIBERATE study were just published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The study included 190 patients who were followed over one year. Results showed that Zephyr Valve treatment helped severe emphysema patients breathe better, be more active and enjoy a better quality of life. In the study, patients treated with the Zephyr Valve were able to do more daily activities, such as walking, doing chores and getting washed, with less shortness of breath than patients treated with medication alone.
“Emphysema patients have a terrible quality of life, and this study showed that the Zephyr Valve treatment can significantly improve breathing, exercise capacity and quality of life for these patients,” said David Hsia, MD, Principal Investigator for Harbor-UCLA Medical Center/LABioMed. “The fact that Zephyr Valves are designed to be a long-term solution, rather than adding on additional medications, is a positive step in emphysema treatment. We look forward to FDA clearance of this device in the U.S.”
The study evaluated several different measures of breathing and quality of life and patients treated with Zephyr Valves showed significant improvement across all of them.
In addition, Zephyr patients had a significantly lower rate of respiratory failure and a trend towards a reduction in COPD hospitalization over the course of one year when compared to patients on medical management alone.
The most common risk of the procedure was an air leak, known as a pneumothorax, which affected approximately one-third of patients. Most instances were handled through standard medical management.
The Zephyr Valve treatment is designed for emphysema patients who are often short of breath and doing less of the things they want to do, despite regular use of COPD medications and/or oxygen. It involves placing tiny devices into the lungs in a short procedure that does not involve cutting, to block off the more diseased areas, so healthier areas can expand and take in more air. This also relieves pressure on the diaphragm, which makes breathing easier. They are designed to be permanent, but can easily be removed, if necessary. The Zephyr Valve is not yet approved by the FDA or available for sale in the U.S.
More information about the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve can be found at pulmonx.com.