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Dr. Adam Belanger

CHAPEL HILL, NC – This week the first bronchoscopic long-term reduction (BLVR) procedure will be completed at the UNC Medical Center. The alternative to traditional lung volume reduction surgery is being offered by Adam Belanger, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and a team of interventional pulmonologists.

UNC is one of a handful of sites to offer the procedure in North Carolina, and will fill a need for some Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients by providing a less-invasive procedure with a shorter recovery time.

BLVR is an incisionless procedure that places endobronchial valves in the lungs using a scope through the patient’s airways. The valves allow the release of excess air in diseased portions of the lung but does not allow air back in.

“Instead of cutting out diseased portions of lung tissue as is done in traditional lung volume reduction surgery, we’re working inside the lung to block the airways to the damaged areas,” Belanger said. “We are able redirect airflow to the healthy portions of the lung that are functioning properly, and patients quickly see a substantial improvement in their quality of life.”

Belanger says COPD patients with the emphysema variant should be referred to his group for additional testing to determine if the patient would be a good candidate for the procedure. The patient should be between ages 40 and 75, with a relatively healthy heart and should not be smoking.

Recovery time from BLVR itself is short but patients will need to stay in the hospital for five days following the procedure because if complications do arise, most patients see them within that initial time frame.

To learn more about BLVR or to refer a patient, you can email Dr. Adam Belanger.