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New approach to treatment helps many with emphysema

New treatment is helping emphysema patients
New treatment is helping emphysema patients

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – More than 11 million U.S. adults suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes a number of lung conditions, including emphysema.

Stanley Williams was diagnosed with the early stages of the disease 20 years ago.

“Biggest problem I had was I was prone to things like bronchitis. As time went on, the bronchitis would become pneumonia,” he said.

Over the years, the disease progressed to the point where he struggled to breathe and sought out a specialist at Holy Cross Hospital for help.

“And when I first went to him, we basically looked at every procedure available and at that time I couldn’t qualify for any of them, what I had was too spread out,” Williams said.

Lead pulmonologist Dr. Sam Kosseifi was recently able to offer Williams hope through a treatment option using a device called the Zephyr valve, which is FDA-approved for patients with severe emphysema.

“Patients who already are on optimal inhaler therapy, oxygen, done pulmonary rehabilitation and they still want to do more,” Kosseifi said.

While the patient is under general anesthesia, the tiny valves are inserted into diseased areas of the lungs through a minimally invasive approach.

“We went down with a camera in a tube through the nose down to the lung through the windpipe and we had already preselected the lobe that had most of the emphysema,” Kosseifi said. “Basically what we did is we deflated his left upper lobe, the diseased inefficient lobe, and this way we allow the rest of the healthier part of the lungs to inflate and take in more air.”

After a few days in the hospital, Williams was back home and says with each passing day, his breathing improves.

He and his wife Loretta are now making plans for the future.

“I’m extremely ecstatic about all this,” he said.

These special valves have also been used to help patients suffering from lung collapse.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.