Surgery tends to be reserved for the most severely affected COPD patients. The surgery for COPD has two primary methods. The first method is removing the worst affected areas of lung tissue. This allows less affected areas to work better. These types of surgeries are called lung volume reduction surgery, bullectomy and lobectomy. The second method is replacing severely damaged lung tissue with normal lung tissue. This is called a lung transplant.
These procedures are major surgeries. A significant amount of lung tissue, an entire lung or both lungs are removed. However, there are several new experimental methods for alternatives to lung volume reduction surgery presently being tested. These newer methods involve implanting devices or substances into the airways by bronchoscopy. (This is a flexible scope inserted into the airways. See the next page.)
Not every COPD patient is a candidate for a surgery. Some COPD patients may be harmed by these procedures rather than helped. Your health care provider may have limited experience with these options. The best person to talk with about a surgery may be a lung specialist. This type of doctor is called a pulmonologist.