A new treatment which can significantly improve lung function measures and quality of life for patients with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now available at Spire Leeds Hospital. Spire Leeds Hospital is currently the only private hospital performing this procedure.*

Normal lungs Enlarged lungs with trapped air due to emphysema

Normal lungs

Enlarged lungs with trapped air due to emphysema


Emphysema is a long term, progressive condition that occurs when the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lung are damaged, leading to shortness of breath and a vulnerability to other respiratory infections.

Within a normal lung, there are millions of small air sacs (alveoli) which are elastic and form a thick structure. The air sacs provide a large surface area for gases to be exchanged between the air and the blood. During inhalation (breathing in) oxygen passes into the bloodstream from the air and during exhalation (breathing out), carbon dioxide is released.

In emphysema, the walls separating the air sacs become diseased and the air sacs merge to become larger sacs. – resulting in less surface area and thus less oxygen entering the blood stream.

Normally to breathe out, the elastic nature of the lungs helps to squeeze the air out. In a diseased lung, the elastic tissue does not work very well so air becomes trapped in the large air sacs, making it difficult to breathe out (hyperinflation).

How does the new treatment work?

The newly available treatment called ‘endoscopic lung volume reduction’ is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure that involves the insertion of ‘endobronchial valves’. Using a bronchoscope (a small flexible camera that is passed into the lungs via the nose or mouth), approximately two to five small one way valves are placed into the affected area of the lung to allow air to escape from the overinflated part of the lung. There is no need for any incision in the body.

With the valve/s in place, when a patient exhales, air and secretions are able to move through the valve and out of the lung compartment that is fed by that airway. But when the patient inhales, the valve closes and blocks air from entering that lung compartment.

Part of an enlarged lung receives valves that empty the air, making healthier parts of the lung function better

Part of an enlarged lung receives valves that empty the air, making healthier parts of the lung function better

In summary, the procedure blocks the ‘bad’ parts of the lung from breathing, allowing more space for the ‘better’ parts to breathe.

Following the implantation of the valve/s, suitable patients can see an improvement in their ability to breathe, walk and exercise as well as become more independent.

Patient suitability

Patients with significant emphysema and shortness of breath should seek medical advice regarding the possibility of having this treatment.

Is the lung volume reduction procedure covered by private medical insurance?

Yes the procedure itself is normally covered by insurers - though the cost of consumables may be extra, please check with your individual insurer.

This procedure is currently also available as a self-pay procedure.

Who performs the lung volume reduction procedure?

Endoscopic lung volume reduction is performed by consultant thoracic surgeon Mr Kostas Papagiannopoulos MD CTH, MMED THORAX.

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13 Replies

  • Hi, this has been written by one of our members, johnwr, he has written other articles on his experience and will probably be along later to reply to you. In the meantime you should find the article below very interesting,

    Libby x

  • I have read about this before and it does sound VERY exciting news for those that it applies to

    I have had both my lower lobes removed , yonks ago when I was 15 & you think I would still be able to have this procedure if it were recommended for me?

  • Hello twiceshy3

    Kostas is a surgeon I've met several times at seminars. He is one of my heroes. A top flight surgeon. This operation is the same as the one I had two years ago. Advances have been made since then, so the chances of a good outcome are now better.

    What I wrote about the op can be seen at:

    and at the link libby gave.

    Kostas was also involved in producing a video about the op several years ago which is worth looking at. Link for that is:

    As always, breathe easy


  • deleted my reply now,i looked him up via the web after I was told of this,by someone,xxx

  • These are listed as his specialities at St. James University Hospital Leeds

    All aspects of Thoracic pathology with special interest in Thoracic oncology including chest wall resections and oesophageal carcinoma. Minimally invasive surgery, pectus deformity repairs and VATS sympathectomies for hyperhidrosis.


  • interesting thank you

  • Very interesting, what are the costs if not funded?

  • Hmm, I asked my Consultant about the possibility of this procedure - - he said that the " Valves " tend to wear out rather quickly, and not enough research ) in his opinion ) , has been done for general use - so "Not suitable for me " ! Oh dear , never mind - perhaps something else might come along !!....

  • It looks like it is a valved Lung stent. As always the simplest things are the best.

    I wonder why the NHS do not get involved or is it a licence thing and will cost them a bomb?

  • Well done on the fags I gave up in hospital with pneumonia in 1992 but when some one lights up near by they still smell good :( But now I would ban them as they do nothing but bad.

  • As far as I know it is available on NHS at about 6 centres including Cardiff ,Royal Brompton , Leeds St James and Papworth. At least 3 members on here have had it done on the NHS . ..".johnwr." above , "not local "and " out to lunch ?"

  • Have been attending the royal brompton in London , met the consultant that mentioned this procedure as a possible solution for me, only concern is , this guy looks the spitting image of Gordon Ramsey the t.v chef !! Does anyone else know him ?

  • Twice shy, thank you for this valuable information.

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