Published on June 26, 2019

NMMC Offers New Technology for Patients After Lung Surgery

TUPELO, Miss.—North Mississippi Medical Center now offers a new option for patients who develop a leak in their lungs after lung surgery.

“Sometimes after surgery for lung cancer or COPD patients develop a leak in their lungs that won’t heal,” said pulmonologist Jaime Ungo, M.D. “This new valve is an easy way to treat that leak without having to have a long-term chest tube or another surgery.”

Dr. Ungo worked to bring this treatment option to Tupelo after he had a patient develop this problem.

“It was a difficult case of a hospitalized patient who developed this leak, and I knew that this new valve had recently gotten approved by the FDA and knew it was something that needed to be available here for our patients,” Dr. Ungo said.

He and his colleagues were soon trained on inserting the valve, which is placed during an outpatient procedure.

“The valve goes inside of the lung and keeps air from going in, but lets air out,” Dr. Ungo said. “It gives the leak a chance to heal on its own.”

The valve can also be used to treat emphysema and other lung problems.

“For example, emphysema is basically holes in the lung tissue,” he said. “We can use these one-way valves to prevent airflow to the diseased region, while allowing trapped air and fluids to escape. This allows healthier regions to expand and function better.”

This treatment option can improve lung function and exercise capacity, and increase quality of life. It is designed to be removable, preserving future treatment options.

“We now have an option for patients who did not have any before,” Dr. Ungo said. “It’s been around for 10 to 12 years in research – I’ve just been waiting for it to be available.”

For more information about respiratory services at NMMC, visit www.nmhs.net/respiratory-care or  call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).

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