Conference Coverage

Lung volume reduction methods show similar results for emphysema



– For patients with emphysema who are suitable candidates for lung volume reduction surgery, there were no differences at 1 year in either lung function, dyspnea, or exercise capacity between patients who were assigned to undergo standard lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) or bronchoscopic lung volume reduction with endobrachial valves (BLVR-EBV) in a randomized trial.

Among patients with emphysema amenable to surgery, there were similar improvements between the treatment groups at 12-month follow-up as assessed by the iBODE score, a composite disease severity measure incorporating body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity (incremental shuttle walk test), reported Sara Buttery, BSc, a research physiotherapist and PhD candidate at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London.

“Until now there had been no direct comparison of the two to inform decision-making when a person seems to be suitable for either. Bronchoscopic lung volume reduction is a less invasive option and is thought to be ‘less risky’ but, until now, there has not been substantial research to support this,” she said at the annual congress of the European Respiratory Society.

Ms. Buttery and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled, single-blinded superiority trial to see whether LVRS could be superior to BLVR with valves. They enrolled 88 patients (52% male) with a mean age of 64, and randomly assigned them to receive either LVRS (41 patients) or the less-invasive BLVR (47 patients).

As noted before, there were no significant differences in outcomes at 1 year, with similar degrees of improvement between the surgical techniques for both the composite iBODE score (–1.10 for LVRS vs. –0.82 for BLVR, nonsignificant), and for the individual components of the score.

In addition, the treatments were associated with similar reductions in gas trapping, with residual volume percentage predicted –36.1 with LVRS versus –30.5 with BLVR (nonsignificant).

One patient in each group died during the 12 months of follow-up. The death of the patient in the BLVR group was deemed to be treatment related; the death of the patient in the LVRS group was related to a noninfective exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Invited discussant Isabelle Opitz, MD, from University Hospital Zürich told Ms. Buttery: “I have to congratulate you for this very first randomized controlled trial comparing both procedures in a superiority design.”

She pointed out, however, that the number of patients lost to follow-up and crossover of some patients randomized to bronchoscopy raised questions about the powering of the study.

“We did a sensitivity analysis to have a look to see if there was any difference between the patients who did return and the ones who didn’t, and there was no difference at baseline between those patients.” Ms. Buttery said.

She noted that follow-up visits were hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of many patients to come into the clinic.

Dr. Opitz also asked about COPD Assessment Test (CAT) scores that were included in the trial design but not reported in the presentation. Ms. Buttery said that the CAT results favored the LVRS group, and that the results would be included in a future economic analysis.

“The results from this first randomized controlled trial suggest that BLVR may be a good therapeutic option for those patients for whom either procedure is suitable,” said Alexander Mathioudakis, MD, PhD, from the University of Manchester (England), who was not involved with this study but commented on it in a press statement. “Lung volume reduction surgery is an invasive operation as it requires a small incision to be made in the chest, which is stitched up after the procedure. As such, it has risks associated with surgery and it takes longer to recover from than bronchoscopic lung volume reduction. On the other hand, endobronchial valves placement is also associated with side effects, such as pneumonia, or valve displacement. Therefore, both the safety and effectiveness of the two procedures need to be investigated further, in larger groups of patients, but the results from this trial are very encouraging.”

The study is supported by the U.K. National Institute of Health Research. Ms. Buttery, Dr. Opitz, and Dr. Mathioudakis reported no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article first appeared on

Next Article:

CDC warns of enterovirus strain linked to polio-like condition