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Lung Volume Reduction Surgery

  • Joel Cooper
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to Joel Cooper, MD, Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, 6 Silverstein, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
    Affiliations
    Division of Thoracic Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
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      Patients with end-stage emphysema have a markedly overinflated chest due to the loss of lung elastic recoil and to the associated collapse of small airways, creating a permanent state of hyperinflation. The chest wall is markedly expanded and the diaphragm is flattened, both of which lead to increased dyspnea and marked increase in the work of breathing. These altered respiratory mechanics are ultimately what cripples the patient with severe emphysema.
      • Brantigan O.C.
      • Mueller E.
      • Kress M.B.
      A surgical approach to pulmonary emphysema.
      Lung volume reduction surgery is designed for those patients with severe emphysema who have identifiable regions of the lung, usually in the upper lobes, that are markedly destroyed to the point that they contribute little, if anything, to gas exchange, restrict the ventilation of the remaining, better parts of the lung, and adversely affect respiratory mechanics. For these patients, resection of the most destroyed portions of the lung has been shown to improve respiratory mechanics, exercise tolerance, and quality of life.
      • Ciccone A.M.
      • Meyers B.F.
      • Guthrie T.J.
      • et al.
      Long-term outcome of bilateral lung volume reduction in 250 consecutive emphysema patients.
      • Cooper J.D.
      Clinical trials and future prospects for lung volume reduction surgery.

      Operative Technique

      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1The patient is supine for a standard median sternotomy incision. Before sternal division, the xiphoid is excised and an angled sponge forceps with a sponge ball is used to sweep the pleura away from the midline on either side to avoid entrance into the pleura and/or injury to the lung at the time of sternal division.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2A sternal retractor with broad blades is used to spread the sternum and gently elevate the sternum on the side to be addressed first. These patients are older, and often on steroids, increasing the fragility of the sternum and costal cartilages.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3The mediastinal pleura is carefully incised, taking great care to avoid injury to the phrenic nerve, especially at the upper end of the pleural incision on the left side, where the phrenic nerve is particularly vulnerable to injury. RUL = right upper lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr4
      Figure 4The pulmonary ligament is divided whenever possible up to the inferior pulmonary vein. This is especially important on the right side to allow the lower and middle lobes to move upward after the right upper lobe reduction, which usually involves removal of most of the right upper lobe. Division of the pulmonary ligament on the left side is less important as the apex of the lower lobe normally reaches the top of the chest, and furthermore, only 50 to 60% of the left upper lobe is usually resected as the lingula often has less extensive disease and is therefore preserved. RUL = right upper lobe; RML = right middle lobe; RLL = right lower lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr5
      Figure 5Ventilation to the first lung to be reduced (usually the right lung) is suspended following opening of the mediastinal pleura to that side. Any adhesions are carefully divided and the overinflated lobe, targeted for reduction, is punctured with the cautery to allow deflation before application of the gastrointestinal anastomosis (GIA) stapler. The line of excision begins just above the horizontal fissure medially and extends across the upper lobe close to the horizontal fissure anteriorly and to the posterior portion of the oblique fissure laterally. Great care is taken to avoid extending the staple line across the fissure into the superior segment of the right lower lobe as this often causes significant air leak in the lower lobe and furthermore tethers the lower lobe and may prevent it from rising toward the apex of the chest postoperatively. A noncrushing, straight, intestinal clamp is often used to compress and demarcate the lung parenchyma where the stapler is to be applied. The linear GIA stapler is fitted with strips of bovine pericardium to act as a staple line buttress (insert). RUL = right upper lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr6
      Figure 6The intestinal clamp is removed and the GIA stapler is applied, beginning on the medial aspect of the right upper lobe about 2 cm above the horizontal fissure line. The stapler is directed toward the axilla. The pericardial strips are flooded with saline to soften them before the stapler is removed. RUL = right upper lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr7
      Figure 7(A) A second application of the GIA staple is applied, again compressing and delineating the intended line of division by preliminary application of the intestinal clamp. The staple line should be directed at least several centimeters above the oblique fissure to avoid injury to the superior segment of the lower lobe. (B) The application of the second staple line begins at the end of the previous staple line.
      Figure thumbnail gr8
      Figure 8It is common to use an endoscopic GIA stapler for the most posterior portion of the lung excision to facilitate this portion of the division without undo traction on the first portion of the staple line. The stapler is fitted with buttressing strips (insert).
      Following completion of the right-sided resection, the sternal retractor is reversed so that the deep blade is on the left side of the sternal division facilitating gentle elevation of the left side of the sternum to improve access. Following division of the mediastinal pleura, and division of any adhesions, the upper half of the left upper lobe is usually excised with a staple line that is parallel to the oblique fissure. As on the right side, the initial portion of the staple line is conducted with two or three applications of the linear GIA stapler and the final portion is often performed with the endoscopic GIA stapler. Care is taken to avoid crossing the fissure and injuring, or including the superior segment of the left lower lobe with the staple line.
      It is my strong preference to use only one continuous staple line on either side and not to do multiple, separate wedge excisions, which increase the chances of postoperative space and air leak problems. As Brantigan and colleagues
      • Brantigan O.C.
      • Mueller E.
      • Kress M.B.
      A surgical approach to pulmonary emphysema.
      correctly noted in their initial report in 1959, “It is an operation directed at restoration of a physiologic principal, it is not concerned with the removal of pathologic tissue.” RUL = right upper lobe.
      Figure thumbnail gr9
      Figure 9The chest tubes are brought out through the subcostal area close to the midline and not through the intercostal spaces. The chest tubes are directed into the pleural space, one to the very apex and one to the posterior basal region on either side. Thus, the sternotomy incision and pleural drainage avoid injury to any of the chest wall muscles or intercostal nerves. This, along with the use of a thoracic epidural catheter, as well as very skilled anesthetic management, contributes to the fact that in the initial 400 patients on whom we have performed either a unilateral or a bilateral reduction, only one patient has required ventilatory support in the initial postoperative period.
      The chest tubes are placed on water seal and not suction, to reduce over-distention of the remaining lung, which can in turn lead to tear of the visceral pleura either in the reduced lobes or in the remaining lobes. Gentle suction is applied during the first 48 hours only if there is massive subcutaneous emphysema, or a pneumothorax to a size that limits inflation of the remaining lung.
      Figure thumbnail gr10
      Figure 10(A) At times, there may be a significant discrepancy between the volume of the hemithorax and that of the remaining lung tissue. On such occasions, a pleural tent may be employed with release of the pleura over the top half of the hemithorax so that it can fall and drape over the remaining lung. The space above the pleura fills with blood and fluid. Usually, this reabsorbs over the next couple of months so that the remaining lung ultimately expands to fill the chest, whereas the chest itself is reduced in size. (B) The chest tubes are placed below the tent and the mediastinal pleura is closed, leaving a pocket of air above the tent.

      References

        • Brantigan O.C.
        • Mueller E.
        • Kress M.B.
        A surgical approach to pulmonary emphysema.
        Am Rev Respir Dis. 1959; 80: 194-206
        • Ciccone A.M.
        • Meyers B.F.
        • Guthrie T.J.
        • et al.
        Long-term outcome of bilateral lung volume reduction in 250 consecutive emphysema patients.
        J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003; 125: 513-525
        • Cooper J.D.
        Clinical trials and future prospects for lung volume reduction surgery.
        Sem Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2002; 14: 365-370