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Health Beat: Breathing easier — emphysema coils

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 26 2014 09:00:00 AM CST

Breathing Easier: Emphysema Coils

PHILADELPHIA -

Two million people in the United States suffer with emphysema, a debilitating disease that causes irreversible damage to the lungs, making it hard to breathe for patients and difficult to engage in normal activities.

Now, a new therapy could help folks like Linda Creighton breathe easier without surgery.

Keeping up with her grandson, Justin, has not been easy.

"I would be completely out of breath," said Creighton, a former three-pack-a-day smoker who developed severe emphysema a few years ago and was told a lung transplant was her only option. "I guess I went into denial because I know I'm not ready to take that kind of a step."

Now, Dr. Gerard Criner is testing a new non-invasive treatment.

"It has the potential to be huge," said Criner, director, Temple Lung Center, Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Doctors use a bronchoscope to deliver 10 tiny coils into the diseased lung. The coils work by compressing the lungs to help restore elasticity.

"When it compresses the lung tissue, it actually re-tensions the lung. That increases the recoil of the lung to expand the small airways," Criner said.

Patients feel a difference just one hour after the coils are placed. Studies done in Europe show an average 18-percent improvement in lung function.

After just one month, Creighton could walk 60 percent more than before.

"It really has changed my life. It has given me back a comfortable lifestyle of doing things that I normally wanted to do like taking care of my grandson," Creighton said.

Patients in the renew study receive two sets of coils placed four months apart. The multi-center study is currently enrolling patients across the country.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary and an in-depth interview with the doctor