For patients with severe COPD or emphysema, a new treatment option known as the Zephyr® Endobrachial Valve System has proved successful in improving lung function, exercise capacity and quality of life.
During this minimally invasive procedure, a doctor uses a bronchoscope (a thin tube with a camera), to place tiny valves in the airways of the lungs. These valves allow healthy portions of the lungs to expand, lifting pressure off the diaphragm to enhance breathing.
Below are some questions and answers about the Zephyr® Valve.
About the Zephyr® Valve System
What is the Zephyr® Valve?
The Zephyr® Valve is thefirst FDA-approved, minimally-invasive device available in the U.S. for treating patients with severe emphysema.
Who is the Zephyr® Valve for?
The Zephyr® Valve is for severe emphysema patients who consistently feel short of breath despite using COPD medications and/or oxygen.
What are the benefits of Zephyr® Valves?
Patients report being able to take full breaths immediately after the procedure and within a few days are back to doing everyday tasks with ease. In clinical studies patients treated with Zephyr® Valves have been shown to:
- Breathe easier
- Be more active and energetic
- Be less short of breath
- Enjoy a significantly improved quality of life compared to untreated patients
How do Zephyr® Valves work?
If you have COPD/emphysema you may struggle to catch your breath while doing everyday tasks. This is because the damaged parts of your lungs have lost their ability to release trapped air and have become overinflated. Zephyr Valves are tiny, one-way valves that allow the trapped air to be exhaled from the lungs and prevent more air from becoming trapped there. This helps you to breathe better and do more.
About the Procedure
How does the Zephyr® Valve procedure work?
The one-time procedure is done during a bronchoscopy that requires no cutting or incisions.
A typical Zephyr® valve procedure looks like this:
- The doctor will give you medicine to make you sleepy.
- A small tube with a camera, called a bronchoscope, will be inserted into your lungs through your nose or mouth.
- During the procedure on average the doctor will place 4 Zephyr Valves in the airways.
- You will stay in the hospital for approximately 3 nights for observation.
- After the procedure, you will continue to use the medicines that your doctor has prescribed for your condition.
How long does the procedure take?
The procedure is usually complete in about an hour.
What is the recovery time?
Following Zephyr Valve treatment, patients are required to stay in the hospital for 3 nights to allow for careful observation. In most cases, patients are able to go home after 3 nights if there are no complications. Some patients may end up staying longer than 3 nights if they develop a pneumothorax (tear in the lung), a known side effect of this treatment or another complication. Most patients are able resume normal activities within a couple of weeks.
How many people have received the procedure?
Approximately 25,000 people globally have received this treatment.
Eligibility, Testing and Insurance
Who is eligible for the Zephyr® Valve?
Generally, those who should be evaluated for Zephyr Valve Treatment are patients who:
- Have a confirmed diagnosis of COPD or emphysema
- Have to stop to catch their breath often, even with taking their medication as directed
- Have reduced lung function (FEV1≤50% predicted)
These are general criteria but only a Zephyr Valve trained physician can determine if you are a candidate.
Is there an age limit?
The procedure is for adult patients (18 years and older). A Zephyr Valve trained physician will determine if you are a candidate but there is no strict upper age limit.
What tests do I need to see if I am eligible?
A simple set of tests are required to determine if you might be a good candidate for the treatment. These include pulmonary function testing (PFTs), a CT scan, ABG (a blood test), and the 6-minute walk test. Additional tests may include an echocardiogram and a perfusion scan.
Do I need to quit smoking?
Yes, you will need to quit smoking at least 4 months prior to receiving the Zephyr Valve Treatment and must refrain from smoking after the procedure.
Who can’t have the Zephyr® Valve treatment?
- Patients cannot have this treatment if they do not meet certain criteria. You will need to go through a number of tests to see if you qualify. Some of the most common reasons why patients do not qualify are:
- Unable to have a bronchoscopic procedure.
- Have an active lung infection.
- Have an allergy to Nitinol, nickel, titanium, or silicone.
- Have not stopped smoking.
- Have an air pocket (bullae) that is greater than 1/3 of the size of the lung
- Have passages or channels in their lungs that bypass the normal airways (collateral ventilation).
Will my insurance cover this procedure?
Most patients who qualify for the Zephyr Valve procedure are able to secure insurance coverage for their treatment.
After the Zephyr® Valve Procedure
What benefits have people experienced?
In 4 randomized, controlled clinical trials, Zephyr Valves have been proven to:
- Improve Lung Function
- Improve Exercise Capacity
- Improve Quality of Life(1)
After the procedure will I still have to take my regular medications?
Yes, you will likely continue to take your medications as prescribed by your doctor for your condition.