Surgery is usually a last resort for people with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Surgery may benefit a very select group of patients whose severe symptoms have not improved from taking medications.
When the walls of alveoli are destroyed, larger air spaces called bullae form. These air spaces can become so large that they interfere with breathing. In a bullectomy, one or more very large bullae are removed from the lungs. This surgery is very risky and rarely done.
Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)
In this surgery, damaged tissue is removed from the lungs. This helps the lungs work better. In a very select group of patients, LVRS can improve breathing and quality of life.
A lung transplant may be an option for an even more select group of people with very severe COPD. During a lung transplant, the damaged lung is removed and replaced with a healthy lung from a donor. Although a lung transplant can improve lung function and quality of life, there are many risks associated with this type of surgery, including infection and rejection of the transplanted lung.