Background: The National Emphysema Treatment Trial defined subgroups of patients with severe emphysema in whom lung-volume-reduction surgery (LVRS) improved survival and function at 2 years. Two additional years of follow-up provide valuable information regarding durability.
Methods: A total of 1218 patients with severe emphysema were randomized to receive LVRS or medical treatment. We present updated analyses (4.3 versus 2.4 years median follow-up), including 40% more patients with functional measures 2 years after randomization.
Results: The intention-to-treat analysis of 1218 randomized patients demonstrates an overall survival advantage for LVRS, with a 5-year risk ratio (RR) for death of 0.86 (p = 0.02). Improvement was more likely in the LVRS than in the medical group for maximal exercise through 3 years and for health-related quality of life (St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire [SGRQ]) through 4 years. Updated comparisons of survival and functional improvement were consistent with initial results for four clinical subgroups of non-high-risk patients defined by upper-lobe predominance and exercise capacity. After LVRS, the upper-lobe patients with low exercise capacity demonstrated improved survival (5-year RR, 0.67; p = 0.003), exercise throughout 3 years (p < 0.001), and symptoms (SGRQ) through 5 years (p < 0.001 years 1 to 3, p = 0.01 year 5). Upper-lobe-predominant and high-exercise-capacity LVRS patients obtained no survival advantage but were likely to improve exercise capacity (p < 0.01 years 1 to 3) and SGRQ (p < 0.01 years 1 to 4).
Conclusions: Effects of LVRS are durable, and it can be recommended for upper-lobe-predominant emphysema patients with low exercise capacity and should be considered for palliation in patients with upper-lobe emphysema and high exercise capacity.