An Introduction to Emphysema

Emphysema is one of the major obstructive lung diseases that contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  It is the gradual destruction of the air sacs in the lungs, making it progressively more difficult to breathe. The tiny cluster-like air sacs in the lungs 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, emphysema allows less oxygen to reach the bloodstream. Emphysema also destroys the elasticity of the airways leading to the air sacs.

As a result, the air sacs collapse trapping oxygen in the lungs. Sufferers of emphysema constantly feel short of breath and struggle to breathe. The lung damage from emphysema creates trapped air pockets, which prevent individuals from expelling air forcefully. The more air that is trapped, the worse lung function becomes, which makes breathing harder and pulmonary function test results decline.

The Basics of The Stages of Emphysema

While emphysema is not typically construed as a four-step disease like its umbrella disease, COPD, there is still a major staging system available that can help practitioners and patients diagnose and understand their disease. GOLD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) put forth a set of criteria that helps divide emphysema cases into four progressive stages. To differentiate between the four stages, GOLD recommends monitoring the amount of air a person with emphysema can forcefully exhale in one second; this is called the forced expiratory volume or FEV1. The FEV1 is determined through a pulmonary function test administered by a pulmonologist. The possible results are divided into the severity of each stage of emphysema.

Stage One: This is considered mild emphysema. The FEV1 must be greater than or equal to 80% of normal lung function.

Stage Two: As moderate emphysema, the FEV1 must be less than 80%, but greater than or equal to 50% of normal lung function.

Stage Three: Severe emphysema requires a FEV1 less than 50% of normal, but greater than or equal to 30%.

Stage Four, also called End Stage: A FEV of less than 30% of normal, or of less than 50% or normal with low blood oxygen levels indicates very severe emphysema.

While the GOLD emphysema staging criteria is widely used by pulmonologists and physicians alike, it cannot be used to evaluate every person with emphysema as it fails to acknowledge how people with emphysema feel or their quality of life.

Treatment for Stage Four Emphysema

People with stage four emphysema have many options to improve their quality of life. The Lung Institute offers two adult cellular therapies: bone marrow cellular therapy and venous (blood-derived) cellular therapy. The venous therapy can be performed on its own when needed. During these therapies, the adult cells go through a specific process to target the damaged tissue.

Cells can be utilized in any organ in the body since cells are able to mimic any possible differentiated cells. Since they are capable of self-renewing indefinitely, they can divide many times and can specialize to promote the healing of organs, such as lungs, while still sustaining the original cell.

The Process of Stage Four Emphysema Treatment

The cells are extracted from the patient’s body either through bone marrow or blood depending on the case. The cells are isolated by a trained professional in a clinical setting. The adult cells are quickly returned to the patient intravenously. Now, the cells will begin to promote the healing of lung tissue. With their ability to continually replicate, the lungs grow stronger, and patients are able to breathe easier and live better.

If you or a loved one wants to learn more about how the lives of patients with stage four emphysema can be improved through stem cell therapy, contact us or call us at (800) 729-3065.

* Every patient is given a Patient Satisfaction Survey shortly after treatment. Responses to the 11-question survey are aggregated to determine patient satisfaction with the delivery of treatment.

^ Quality of Life Survey data measured the patient’s self-assessed quality of life and measurable quality of improvement at three months of COPD patients.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.

Each patient is different. Results may vary.