BACKGROUND: Several methods to surgically enhance pulmonary function and improve the quality of life in patients with bullous emphysema are currently being evaluated. One of these methods, lung volume reduction, is performed in patients with bullous emphysema that can no longer be well managed with medical therapy. OBJECTIVES: The focus of this article is to review bullectomy via unilateral thoracoscopy with an endoscopic stapler in the management of end-stage pulmonary emphysema, and to discuss nursing care of these patients. METHODS: An experimental study was used, including review of the literature and analysis of clinical experience using chi-square and t test analyses of pre- and postoperative variables. RESULTS: At 3-month follow-up there were significant improvements in forced expiratory volume in 1 second, forced vital capacity, minute volume ventilation, partial pressure of oxygen, residual volume, and 6-minute walk when pre- and postoperative parameters were compared. Operative mortality was 4%, with the most common complication being prolonged air leak, occurring in 30% of patients studied. CONCLUSIONS: There is now consistent preliminary information to support the concept that lung volume reduction improves pulmonary function and quality of life in a significant percentage of patients.

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