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Thorax. 1999 Sep;54(9):779-89.

Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with underlying severe emphysema.

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  • 1ARIF, Division of Primary Care, Public and Occupational Health of the School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.



Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) has recently re-emerged as a surgical option for the treatment of end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to underlying severe emphysema. Advocates of LVRS claim that it represents a significant breakthrough in the management of this challenging group of patients while sceptics point to uncertainty about the effectiveness of the operation.


A systematic review was conducted of the evidence on the effects of LVRS in patients with end stage COPD secondary to severe emphysema.


The most rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of LVRS came from case series. Seventy five potentially relevant studies were identified and 19 individual series met the methodological criteria for inclusion. The pattern of results was consistent across individual studies despite a significant degree of clinical heterogeneity. Significant short term benefits occurred across a range of outcomes which appeared to continue into the longer term. Physiological improvements were matched by functional and subjective improvements. Early mortality rates were low and late mortality rates compared favourably with those of the general COPD population. However, the entire research base for the intervention is subject to the limitations of study designs without parallel control groups.


LVRS appears to represent a promising option in the management of patients with severe end stage emphysema. However, until the results of ongoing clinical trials are available, the considerable uncertainty that exists around the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the procedure will remain.

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