Emphysema causes lung destruction, resulting in the loss of normal elastic recoil and progressive lung distention. The lung distention in affected areas of the lung can also compress the normal areas of the lung and diaphragm. Patients experience shortness of breath and increased work of breathing.
Lung volume reduction surgery removes diseased emphysema portions of the lung to improve the elastic recoil of the remaining healthy lung, and return the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles to a more physiologic position. This improves the work of breathing, and as a result, improves the shortness of breath. Lung volume reduction surgery is usually performed through a median sternotomy for bilateral procedures, or minimally invasively through a video-assisted approach for unilateral procedures.