Vassar Brothers Medical Center offers new emphysema treatment so people can breathe easier

New treatment at Nuvance Health helps people with emphysema breathe easier


New Endobronchial Valve Program helps people with severe COPD improve their quality of life without major surgery


Nuvance Health’s Vassar Brothers Medical Center now offers a new treatment for emphysema, which is a severe form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The minimally invasive procedure helps people with emphysema breathe easier, have less shortness of breath and more energy.


A team of Nuvance Health thoracic surgeons can now help people with emphysema improve their quality of life without open surgery by using the Zephyr® Valve System. The system is the first FDA approved minimally invasive procedure for emphysema. Until now, the only treatments for emphysema have been highly invasive such as lung transplants.


During the new procedure, thoracic surgeons use a bronchoscope (a thin, lighted tube) to place tiny valves in the airways and block diseased parts of the lungs. This allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand so people with emphysema can breathe more easily. The procedure usually takes less than an hour and requires no cutting or incisions.


COPD includes lung problems such as emphysema that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 15 million Americans have COPD, and more than 150,000 Americans die of it each year — that is one death every four minutes.


“Emphysema is a progressive, life-threatening form of COPD that causes extreme shortness of breath. Someone with symptomatic emphysema may have difficulty doing the simplest daily activities such as showering or walking,” explained Dr. Faiz Bhora, system chief of thoracic surgery and thoracic oncology program at Nuvance Health.


“Many thanks to Vassar Brothers Medical Center critical care, pulmonary medicine and thoracic surgery specialists for their invaluable support of the new Endobronchial Valve Program. Their round the clock care for patients has ensured robust post-operative monitoring,” said Dr. Bhora. “We can now offer people with emphysema in the Hudson Valley relief from struggling to breathe without major surgery because of these caring and talented specialists.”


In addition to multispecialty care, patients have surgery and recover in the new, ultramodern Patient Pavilion at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.


The new procedure is for individuals with severe COPD or emphysema who are consistently short of breath despite taking medications and/or using oxygen. They can speak with their doctor to determine if the bronchoscopy valve procedure is right for them.


Learn more about pulmonary care at Nuvance Health and find a pulmonologist.