In some rare cases, doctor may also recommend surgery for treating COPD. Surgery is usually reserved for severe cases of COPD that are not responding to the usual treatments of medication and exercise or quitting smoking.
Lung volume reduction surgery (LRSV)
In lung volume reduction surgery, up to 35% of the damaged lung is removed. This gives the healthy parts of the lung more room to work to help relieve breathlessness. It can be done as an alternative to lung transplant or while on the wait list for a lung transplant. LRSV is a very risky procedure and is not for everyone. It works best when emphysema is located in the upper lobes of the lungs and is not as effective or beneficial when the emphysema is in the lower lobes.
Lung transplants involve replacing one or both lungs for healthy donor lungs and are a last resort for treating COPD. Getting a lung transplant is a risky procedure and not all COPD patients are suitable for it. In addition, there are also long wait lists to find matching donors. Most of the time, lung transplants are only considered if your COPD is very severe and you are at a high risk of dying within a few years without the transplant. Candidates are typically nonsmokers under 65 and at a healthy weight. These lung transplants are not usually done to prolong life but to relieve breathlessness. If you do get a lung transplant rehab is needed after the surgery and you will be required to take medicine (immunosuppressant’s) for the rest of your life. These medications prevent your body from rejecting your new lungs but also lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick so you will need to take more precautions to limit your exposure to germs.