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Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)

Lung volume reduction surgery is a procedure for people with advanced emphysema. During the procedure, surgeons remove about 30% of the most diseased lung tissue. This allows the diaphragm to return to a more normal position so it can work effectively again. It also may improve lung elasticity.

After surgery, patients will gradually regain their strength as their lungs heal. Most patients have reached their maximum benefit by 6 months after surgery.

Lung volume reduction surgery offers an improved quality of life for qualifying patients with severe emphysema. Through this procedure, 20 percent to 30 percent of the lung area damaged by emphysema can be removed to allow the remaining tissue and surrounding muscles to work more efficiently, making breathing easier.


healthy lung image

Cut surface of healthy lung tissue                 

image of lung with emphysema 

Cut surface of lung tissue with emphysema


“There’s no cure for emphysema, but we can improve the lives of those patients who meet the criteria for this procedure,” according to Dr. Stephen Hazelrigg, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, who has performed lung volume reduction surgery in Springfield for more than 4000 patients over 20 years. “For emphysema patients who qualify as candidates, this procedure can prolong their lives.”

A progressively destructive lung disease in which the walls between the tiny air sacs in the lungs are damaged, emphysema afflicts an estimated 3 million Americans. The diseased tissue compresses healthy lung tissue and flattens the diaphragm so it cannot assist with breathing. To receive The Joint Commission certification, a disease-management program undergoes an extensive onsite evaluation review by a team of The Joint Commission reviewers. Memorial Medical Center first earned certification for its lung volume reduction surgery program in December 2006 and has maintained certification since then. The Joint Commission conducts reviews approximately every two years of certified programs.


Image of CT scan                    

CT scan shows how emphysema has caused the air sacs of the lung to stretch out and become non-functioning. This would be the areas removed during lung volume reduction surgery.

Image of CT scan

Healthier tissue in the bottom of the lungs can expand and work more effectively when the disease in the upper parts of the lung are removed.


Successful participation in these reviews is a requirement of continued certification. The program is evaluated against The Joint Commission standards through a rigorous assessment of the program’s processes and outcomes, the program’s ability to evaluate and improve care within its own organization, and interviews with patients and staff. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 18,000 healthcare organizations and programs and provides certification of more than 1,700 disease-specific care programs, primary stroke centers and health care staffing services.


The Joint Commission’s disease-specific care certification program, launched in 2002, is designed to evaluate clinical programs across the continuum of care.

Memorial Medical Center, 701 N. First St., is a nonprofit, community-based hospital in the Mid-Illinois Medical District at Springfield.

To obtain further information or see if you are a candidate for lung volume reduction surgery contact Karen Bade, 545-5000,



Breathe Easy: Lung Volume Reduction Surgery

Last year, Nancy Bettis couldn’t vacuum her living room without having to take a break to catch her breath. Now, she bowls four days a week, knocking down pins like she never stopped.

Video courtesy of Memorial Medical Center

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