A recent trial has shown that the use of lung coils has produced significant lung function improvements for emphysema patients.
In advanced emphysema parts of the lung become hyperinflated when patients breathe in and these can press down on and impair the healthy lung tissue as well as pushing down on the diaphragm making breathing extremely difficult. Patients would normally undergo surgery and have a lung-reduction procedure, however this is risky and very invasive. The new lung coil may offer a less invasive and effective alternative treatment to reduce lung volume.
The coils are shaped in a simple loop around 10-15cm in length when stretched out. They are made from Nitinol which is a metallic ‘memory’ material that returns to its intended shape even after long-term repeated stretches and compressions.
They are inserted into the lungs using a bronchoscope and placed in areas with diseased lung tissue where they immediately resume their looped form. The coils grab lung tissue and pull it inwards to reduce the lung volume in these sections to allow other sections with healthy lung tissue to inflate more normally. It has been shown that a minimum of 10 coils are needed in order for there to be significant clinical benefits but 12 per lung is the current practice.
Coil treatment has shown to provide significant improvements in the 6 min walking distance test and forced expiratory volume and also less dependence on supplemental oxygen. These results are from 3 months post coil insertion and the trial is still continuing for another 9 months to see if the good results continue long-term. If the results continue to show an improvement in lung function and breathing ability long-term then the coil treatment will be an effective new treatment for COPD patients and other patients with diseases where damaged lung sections cause difficulty in breathing. It is far less drastic and invasive than lung reduction surgery and results show that it is more effective.