Bronchoscopic Thermal Vapor Ablation: Best Practice Recommendations from an Expert Panel on Endoscopic Lung Volume Reduction

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Bronchoscopic thermal vapor ablation (BTVA) represents one of the endoscopic lung volume reduction (ELVR) techniques that aims at hyperinflation reduction in patients with advanced emphysema to improve respiratory mechanics. By targeted segmental vapor ablation, an inflammatory response leads to tissue and volume reduction of the most diseased emphysematous segments. So far, BTVA has been demonstrated in several single-arm trials and 1 multinational randomized controlled trial to improve lung function, exercise capacity, and quality of life in patients with upper lobe-predominant emphysema irrespective of the collateral ventilation. In this review, we emphasize the practical aspects of this ELVR method. Patients with upper lobe-predominant emphysema, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) between 20 and 45% of predicted, residual volume (RV) > 175% of predicted, and carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLCO) ≥20% of predicted can be considered for BTVA treatment. Prior to the procedure, a special software assists in identifying the target segments with the highest emphysema index, volume and the highest heterogeneity index to the untreated ipsilateral lung lobes. The procedure may be performed under deep sedation or preferably under general anesthesia. After positioning of the BTVA catheter and occlusion of the target segment by the occlusion balloon, heated water vapor is delivered in a predetermined specified time according to the vapor dose. After the procedure, patients should be strictly monitored to proactively detect symptoms of localized inflammatory reaction that may temporarily worsen the clinical status of the patient and to detect complications. As the data are still very limited, BTVA should be performed within clinical trials or comprehensive registries where the product is commercially available.

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