A new medical procedure is using metal coils to breathe new life into emphysema sufferers.
Doctors in Canada, the United States and Europe are experimenting with a new treatment that involves inserting Slinky-like metal coils into damaged portions of the lungs to restore their lost elasticity, allowing patients to breathe normally.
“What the coil does, actually, is it acts like a spring,” said Antoine Delage, of the Institut Universitaire De Cardiologie Et De Pneumologie in Quebec. “It recoils the lung back to a smaller size, so it’s easier for these patients to breathe.”
To insert the coils, doctors place a narrow tube inside a patient’s nose or mouth before threading the tiny coil into the airway of the lung. The coil then attaches to the diseased tissue and pulls it tight, compressing the unhealthy portion of the lung. This gives healthier lung tissue room to expand; several coils can be inserted to improve overall lung capacity.
Early studies suggest that patients who’ve undergone the treatment report improved lung function and exercisability. However, more research is needed to determine which patients are best-suited for the treatment.
Doctors say they are looking to test the treatment on 300 patients, screening for possible side effects like infection and pneumonia. Final results are expected early next year.