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The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), with an emphasis on improvement in activities of daily living (ADL), psychological state and health-related quality of life (HRQL), for 12 months in patients with severe emphysema.Eighteen male patients (mean age ± SD: 65.2 ± 6.4 years) who underwent LVRS following pulmonary rehabilitation (LVRS group) and 12 patients (67.0 ± 8.1 years) who were medicated and underwent pulmonary rehabilitation (non-LVRS group) were studied. LVRS was performed by video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. Serial measurements of lung function, 6-min walking distance (6MWD), ADL, HRQL and psychological state scores were performed before surgery and 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery (in the LVRS group), or on the day of discharge (in the non-LVRS group).As well as an improvement in FEV1 and 6MWD, ADL scores were significantly improved in the items of ‘face washing and teeth brushing’, and ‘indoor walking’ at 3 months after LVRS (P < 0.05). At 12 months, an improvement was still found in ‘indoor walking’ and ‘bathing’. HRQL scores were ameliorated at 3–12 months after LVRS. In the non-LVRS group, ADL and HRQL scores failed to improve in any items during the 12 months of observation. Psychological state scores were maintained in the LVRS group and were better than those in the non-LVRS group at 12 months (P < 0.05).Lung volume reduction surgery improves not only lung function and exercise performance but also ADL, HRQL and psychological state for at least 12 months.