Pulmonary emphysema is characterized by destruction of the lung tissue and irreversible dilation of the lungs, which lose their elasticity. It is similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the world's most common non-communicable diseases.

Learn more: Website of the Pulmonology Division.

Different causes can lead to emphysema, the most common of which is smoking. The consequences of emphysema compromise the ability of the lungs to function.  Oxygenation of blood, release of carbon dioxide (CO2), and expiration of air are more difficult (air trapping). This can result in difficulty breathing (dyspnea). In addition, the lung that is affected with emphysema is more easily infected. 

Various examinations can evaluate the extent and impact of the emphysema,  including CT scans, pulmonary function tests and laboratory tests.

Basic treatment of emphysema depends primarily on its cause. If applicable, stopping smoking is the first therapeutic measure, followed by pharmacological treatment with inhalers and respiratory physical therapy.

Emphysema surgery

In some cases, lung volume reduction surgery may be considered. It is performed in one of two different ways: 

  • with an endobronchial approach, passing through the inside of the bronchi, during which a valve or a coil (a small metal spiral that creates a block) is inserted into the bronchus
  • through surgical removal of the diseased and distended part of the lung to leave room for the healthy lung.

For more information on surgical treatment and hospitalization, please visit the website of the Lung Surgery Unit.

Last update : 15/08/2019