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COPD: Lung Surgery Options

Surgery is a choice for a few people with severe COPD. The options include:

  • Bullectomy

  • Endobronchial valve system

  • Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS)

  • Lung transplant

Healthcare providers performing surgery in operating room.


This may be done on a person with emphysema, a type of COPD. When someone has emphysema, the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs are enlarged. Bullae are very large air sacs. This surgery removes the bullae. Then it's easier to breathe.

Endobronchial valve system

This is used to treat breathing problems in people with severe emphysema. The system is the first minimally invasive device to treat emphysema available in the U.S. It was approved by the FDA in 2018. It uses 1-way valves to stop air from entering diseased air sacs. And it also allows air in those air sacs to be exhaled. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if this is a choice for you.

Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS)

LVRS is a surgery to help people with severe emphysema that affects the upper lung lobes. LVRS is not a cure for COPD. But it may improve your exercise capacity and quality of life. During LVRS, part of 1 or both lungs is removed. This creates more space for the healthy parts of the lungs. It's then easier to breathe. 

Lung transplant surgery

Sometimes COPD can cause severe damage to the lungs. Then the lungs don't function normally. Your healthcare provider may consider you for a lung transplant if any of these occurs:

  • The lung damage cannot be repaired

  • You had 3 or more severe flare-ups in the last year

  • LVRS is not a choice for you

During a lung transplant, 1 or both unhealthy lungs are removed and replaced with lungs from a donor. Having donor organs available is a big challenge. After a lung transplant, a person must take medicine to prevent the body from rejecting the new lungs. Lung transplants are carefully evaluated for people with COPD. 

Talk with your healthcare provider to see if surgery is a choice for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Southard RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rajadurai Samnishanth Researcher
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2024
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