Bronchoscopic treatment of emphysema: state of the art

Respiration. 2012;84(3):250-63. doi: 10.1159/000341171. Epub 2012 Jul 23.


In recent years, different bronchoscopic techniques have been proposed for the treatment of emphysema, with the aim of obtaining the same clinical and functional advantages of lung volume reduction surgical techniques while reducing risks and costs. Such techniques can be classified into: methods employing devices that block the airways (e.g. spigots and unidirectional valves), methods that have a direct effect on the lung parenchyma (polymeric lung volume reduction, coils and thermal vapor ablation) and procedures that facilitate the expiration of trapped air from the emphysematous lung (airway bypass). This review aimed to evaluate the indications, outcomes and safety of the different techniques, based on the evidence from the available literature. Results obtained by these methods are encouraging, but they are still based mainly on studies with small groups of patients. However, several trials are ongoing and in the near future we will acquire more knowledge which should lead to a better optimization of these procedures. Meanwhile, the bronchoscopic treatment of emphysema cannot yet be considered a standard of care and patients should be treated in the context of clinical trials or controlled registries, with well-defined programs of evaluation and follow-up.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lung / surgery*
  • Pneumonectomy / methods*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / surgery*