BACKGROUND: Lung volume reduction surgery is currently being investigated as a method of improving the respiratory function of patients with end-stage emphysema. PURPOSE: This article reviews the current literature on lung volume reduction surgery and proposes a multidisciplinary team approach to postoperative management. METHODS: We did a MEDLINE search and retrieved relevant articles. We selected and reviewed nine medical articles published in 1993, 1995, and 1996; one medical article from 1959; and one of four nursing articles. Overall, the articles describe the different techniques of median sternotomy and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery and unilateral versus bilateral procedures. CONCLUSION: Lung volume reduction surgery is beneficial, but further investigation is required.