Are There Treatment Options for Emphysema?
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is one of the major obstructive lung diseases that fits under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It consists of the gradual destruction of air sacs in the lungs, making it more difficult to breathe over time. These tiny cluster-like sacs are responsible for bringing oxygen to the bloodstream. As emphysema progresses, the inner walls of the air sacs form holes weakening their internal structure, thus less oxygen can reach the bloodstream. Additionally, emphysema works to destroy the elasticity of the airways leading to the air sacs. Shortness of breath and struggling to breathe cause constant problems for sufferers.
Treatment Options for Emphysema
Unfortunately, there has not been a cure developed for emphysema, but that does not mean that the disease cannot be treated. The first recommendation by any pulmonary physician is to advise individuals to stop smoking and stay away from smoke-filled locations. Many physicians also prescribe a combination of bronchodilators and steroids to help expand the airways, thus allowing more airflow to and from the lungs and reducing shortness of breath. Emphysema is also commonly treated with a series of pulmonary rehabilitation (aerobic exercise) and nutritional support. For people in the most severe stages of emphysema, supplemental oxygen is also used for treatment—ranging from occasional use to 24/7 use. Most invasively, a physician may suggest a lung transplant, but this often has limited availability and challenging requirements for eligibility. Sadly no treatment improves lung function, but rather deter the progression of the disease…until now.
Stem Cell Treatment for Emphysema
In the case of emphysema, autologous stem cells are used, meaning they come from the patient’s own body, and can be found in adult bone marrow and/or in the patient’s venous blood. Stem cells derived from bone marrow or blood have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells. During the procedure, stem cell treatment involves isolating adult stem cells from bone marrow or blood, which requires special laboratory techniques to collect them. After being extracted from the patient’s body, they are then isolated. Then they are given back to the patient intravenously or through the use of a nebulizer. The treatment is minimally invasive and typically an outpatient procedure. The procedure should be performed in a clinical setting under the supervision of a professional. It takes a physician that has sought specific training to perform stem cell therapy adequately and safely. If you would like to find out more about our available treatment options for emphysema, please contact one of our patient care coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 to schedule a free consultation.