Bilateral Lung Volume Reduction Surgery via Median Sternotomy for Severe Pulmonary Emphysema

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Lung volume reduction surgery either via sternotomy or by thoracoscopy has been demonstrated to be effective for selected emphysema patients in North America and Europe. The present study summarizes short-term results of bilateral lung volume reduction performed via median sternotomy for the first consecutive 39 patients with severe diffuse emphysema in Okayama, Japan, from July 1995 to February 1997.


There were 35 men and 4 women, and the age range was 54 to 74 years with a mean age of 65 years. All were former heavy smokers and none of them had α1- antitrypsin deficiency. Only 9 patients (23%) showed a bilateral upper lobe pattern of emphysema. The operation was done through a median sternotomy, and the most emphysematous portions were excised bilaterally with a linear stapling device fitted with strips of bovine pericardium to prevent air leakage.


No operative death was encountered. The first 33 patients completed 3-month follow-up assessment, and their mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second had improved by 41% from 735 mL to 1,037 mL. Other parameters of pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gas analysis, 6-minute walking distance, and dyspnea scale also had improved significantly. These improvements lasted for at least a year.


Bilateral lung volume reduction surgery via median sternotomy is a safe and effective procedure for selected severe emphysema patients. Although the pattern of emphysema might be different between countries, the results in Japanese patients were similar to those previously reported in North American and European patients.

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