BACKGROUND: Lung volume reduction surgery has been reintroduced for treatment of severe emphysema. Goals of this surgery are to decrease dyspnea, increase exercise tolerance, and improve quality of life. OBJECTIVES: To describe the effect of lung volume reduction surgery on overall quality of life, disease severity, dyspnea, and functional status during the first 12 months after surgery. METHODS: Data were collected for 20 patients (mean age, 63 years; 15 men) before and 3, 6, and 12 months after lung volume reduction surgery. Disease severity was determined by percentage of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (compared with established norms); functional status, by a 6-minute walk test; dyspnea, by scores on a visual analog scale; and overall quality of life, by scores on the Quality of Life Scale. RESULTS: Scores on the Quality of Life Scale and distance walked increased significantly after surgery, and these increases were maintained at 6 and 12 months, respectively. Percentage of forced expiratory volume in 1 second increased significantly 3 months after surgery, but changes at 6 and 12 months were not significant. Changes in dyspnea ratings were not significant. No pattern of correlations among study variables was significant. CONCLUSIONS: Quality of life and functional status are improved after lung volume reduction surgery. Because none of the physiological variables were related to changes in quality of life, alternative explanations for these improvements must be explored in future studies.

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