COPD and Emphysema Treatment

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that block airflow and make it increasingly difficult to breathe.

Symptoms of COPD include coughing up large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightening in the chest. COPD can also affect the heart muscles and can cause depression or anxiety. COPD is a progressive disease and can become so severe that you can no longer participate in the activities you once enjoyed.

If you have COPD, you may experience flare-ups that require hospitalization and leave you even weaker.

Our pulmonary specialists develop individually tailored treatment plans to help you manage your COPD so you can achieve and maintain the best possible quality of life.

Advanced Treatment Options for Optimal Results

If you suffer from COPD, we have a number of treatment options available for you. Penn researchers and physicians study COPD, conduct clinical trials and are on top of the latest available knowledge about how to implement treatments to achieve the best results. Penn's physicians are experts in matching the appropriate therapy to each patient.

Treatment options include:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Medication
  • Surgery, including lung volume reduction
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation therapy
  • Lung transplant

Lung volume reduction surgery removes about a third of the most diseased lung tissue, allowing the diaphragm to return to a more normal position and work effectively again. Your recuperation may take several months while your lungs heal and you regain strength.

The Penn Transplant Institute is currently home to the area's only lung transplant program. Since it opened in 1991, more than 750 successful lung transplants have been performed, improving the lives of hundreds of patients.

An Integrated Approach to COPD Management

We keep your care compact – our radiologists, chest surgeons, lung doctors, advanced practice nurses and respiratory therapists are all accessible and available in one convenient location.

If you need a lung transplant, you'll be seamlessly transitioned into the Harron Lung Center's Lung Transplant Program.

Evaluating COPD

You should bring the following test results and reports to your initial evaluation:

  • Pulmonary function testing
  • Walking tests
  • Chest X-rays and CAT scans
  • Heart studies (such as echocardiograms and catheterization reports)
  • Blood work
  • Other relevant testing

During the initial evaluation, physicians:

  • Make an initial diagnosis or confirm an earlier diagnosis
  • Prescribe the best medicine and, if necessary, prescribe oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation therapy if necessary
  • Discuss pertinent clinical trials, including minimally invasive procedures for emphysema
  • Evaluate surgical options such as bullectomy, lung volume reduction surgery and lung transplantation

Knowledge Increases Patient Confidence

We'll educate you about the specifics of COPD, what can be expected in the future and available treatment options. With education, you can ask more pertinent questions, discuss vital issues with your health care team and actively participate in your treatment.

In This Section

COPD and Emphysema Team

Meet our team of COPD and emphysema specialists.

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