A new program for Bronchoscopic Lung Volume Reduction (BLVR) has been successfully launched in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, led by Dr. Ben-Gary Harvey who serves as the division’s Director of Bronchoscopy and Procedure Services. The bronchoscopic endobronchial valve treatment represents a major advancement in the management of individuals with COPD because it is the first minimally invasive procedure to help emphysema sufferers breathe better without major surgery.
Dr. Harvey works with a multidisciplinary team to evaluate and carry out the procedure. The team includes Pulmonologists, Anesthesiologists, Chest Radiologists, Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Respiratory Therapists and procedural and ICU nurses. After individuals with COPD and emphysema with severe hyperinflation receive a thorough evaluation, a bronchoscopy is performed to deliver several one way valves. These valves are deployed in the airways of the most diseased, hyperinflated, and nonfunctional emphysematous portions of the lungs. The valves allow air and secretions to come out, resulting in atelectasis (closure of these parts of the lungs). The newly created space in the chest cavity can now be occupied by the healthier portions of the lung; this results in improvement of breathing function, walking capacity and quality of life.
This procedure was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States in the Summer of 2018. The Pulmonary Division at Weill Cornell launched the BLVR Program in January of 2019. Currently we are performing this procedure at a rate of one patient per month. Based on the number of patients being evaluated on a weekly basis, we expect a continued growth of the program over the upcoming months. Ongoing evaluations of the patients who have undergone the procedure so far have demonstrated decreased dyspnea, increased walking capacity and improved quality of life within weeks of achieving volume loss of the targeted area of the lung.
This innovative procedure is currently being offered in a limited number of medical centers across the U.S. In New York at this time, the Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center campuses are the only locations who have performed this new and breakthrough procedure for lung volume reduction.