Lung volume reduction surgery and airflow limitation

Henry E. Fessler, Solbert Permutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Interest has recently been renewed in lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) for end-stage emphysema. However, numerous questions about its role in the treatment of emphysema remain, including the clinical characteristics of optimal candidates and its mechanism of improvement in pulmonary function. In this report, we develop a mathematical analysis and graphic depiction of the mechanism of improvement in expiratory airflow and vital capacity. This analysis is based on consideration of the interaction between lung function and respiratory muscle function. We also reexamine previously published pulmonary mechanics in patients with alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma. We find a major determinant of airflow limitation common to these diseases is the ratio of residual volume to total lung capacity (RV/TLC). Moreover, RV/TLC is found to be the single most important determinant of the improvement in pulmonary function after LVRS. Regardless of the specific underlying lung disease, the impairment of airflow is due primarily to mismatch between the sizes of the lung and the chest wall, and the effects of LVRS are almost exclusively due to improvement of that match. This analysis can be used to develop testable hypotheses to guide patient selection for this procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-722
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number3 PART I
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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