Researchers to study airway bypass treatment for emphysema
Researchers at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System today announced the start of the EASE (Exhale Airway Stents for Emphysema) Trial, an international, multi-center clinical trial to explore an investigational treatment that may offer a significant new, minimally-invasive option for those suffering with advanced widespread emphysema. The study focuses on a procedure called airway bypass that involves creating pathways in the lung for trapped air to escape and in turn, relieve emphysema symptoms including shortness of breath.
Emphysema is a chronic, progressive, and irreversible lung disease characterized by the destruction of lung tissue. The loss of the lungs' natural elasticity and the collapse of airways in the lung combine to make exhalation ineffective, leaving the emphysema sufferer with hyperinflation because they can't get air out of their lungs. With hyperinflation, breathing becomes inefficient and the patient is always short of breath. Even the most nominal physical activities become difficult for emphysema patients and many become dependent on oxygen therapy.
"We are excited to be part of this study because currently treatment options for the emphysema patients are very limited and many patients have a very poor quality of life," states Kirk Voelker, MD, principal investigator of the study at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. "By creating new pathways for airflow with the airway bypass procedure, we hope to reduce hyperinflation and improve lung function. If patients can breathe easier it is likely to improve their quality of life."
During airway bypass, physicians will use a flexible bronchoscope to go through the mouth into the airways. There the physician will create new small pathways and place an Exhale