Medical researchers at the University of Iowa are testing a new treatment that involves placing tiny one-way valves in the diseased lobes of lungs of patients diagnosed with severe emphysema. Jeff McClennan, a U-of-I medical professor, says it only takes about 20 minutes to put the half-inch-long cylinders in place. They go in through the patient’s mouth using an endoscope to place the valves deep in the lungs, using a general anesthetic. Dr. McClennan says the one-way valves help the patients to breathe more deeply, something that’s very hard for victims of emphysema to do. He says often several of the valves need to be placed in a person’s lungs to be effective. Depending on the severity of the disease, up to five or six valves need to be inserted. McClennan adds, if problems develop, the valves can be removed in a similarly fast procedure. He says patients usually feel the results right away. He says one patient went and played golf the day after the procedure. The U-of-I is among the first hospitals in the nation experimenting with this valve, with testing done so far on about 18 people. The most common cause of emphysema is cigarette smoking.
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