Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) removes areas of severe disease from both of your lungs. Minimally invasive LVRS is a way to do surgery with small incisions.

Reasons for Procedure

LVRS is used to treat severe lung damage due to COPD. This damaged lung tissue is not able to do its job. LVRS removes this damaged tissue. The remaining lungs will have more room to expand. This will increase the amount of air the lungs can move and ease breathing.

Minimally invasive procedures do not need large incisions. Recovery time may be shorter than with open procedures. However, this option is not best for everyone.

Possible Complications

Potential problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems, like:

  • Air leaking from lung tissue
  • The need to switch to open surgery
  • Pneumonia or infection
  • Excess bleeding
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Some factors will increase your risk of problems. Talk to your doctor about these factors, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will review previous tests. This may include images of your lungs, heart and blood tests. Before surgery:

  • Stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about how you can quit.
  • Arrange for a ride home.
  • Arrange for help at home while you recover.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.

Certain medicines may cause problems during the procedure or recovery. These medicines may need to be stopped up to one week before the procedure. Talk to your doctor before the procedure about all medicines you are taking. This includes over the counter medicine and supplements.


General anesthesia will be used. It will put you to sleep and block pain.

Description of Procedure

Small incisions will be made between the ribs on one or both sides of your chest. A scope will be passed through one of the incisions. The scope will send images to a screen in the room. Other tools will be passed through other incisions. Small wedges of one or both lungs will be removed and closed off.

Tubes will be place near the area. It will allow trapped air to pass out of your chest. This will help the lungs stay inflated. The incisions will be closed.

How Long Will It Take?

It will take up to 4 hours.

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. The incisions and chest will be sore for a few weeks. Medicine will help to ease pain.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

The first 5 to 10 days of recovery will be done in the hospital. Your breathing and lungs will be watched closely. Chest tubes may be removed.

At Home

A pulmonary rehab program is an important part of recovery. You will be taught exercises to help improve breathing.

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing or cough
  • New pain in the chest or persistent and severe pain in the area of surgery
  • Stitches or staples that come apart
  • Excessive bleeding at the site of the incision
  • Coughing up mucus that is yellow, green, or bloody
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge at the incision site
  • Severe nausea or vomiting

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Thoracic Society

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons


Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery

The Lung Association


COPD. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated March 20, 2019. Accessed May 6, 2019.

Emphysema: lung volume reduction surgery. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: Updated October 19, 2018. Accessed May 6, 2019.

Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of COPD. GOLD 2019

Lung volume reduction surgery. American Lung Association website. Available at: Updated March 13, 2018. Accessed May 6, 2019.

Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS): procedure details. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Updated November 15, 2016. Accessed May 6, 2019.

Last reviewed May 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board   Last Updated: 5/21/2019