Fixing Leaky Lungs

October 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lung cancer is tough to beat but a new medical development is making recovery faster.Joel Hammond, lung cancer patient, is a man on the move. "I like walking because it gets you outside -- see the trees and flowers."

He feared cancer surgery to remove part of his lung would slow him down. "It frightened me to see that some of the lung surgeries could have you in the hospital for up to two weeks."

Thanks to a new spray-on sealant called evicel, Joel's made a remarkable turn-around. "I'm not in bed. I'm not recovering. There's a lot of pluses here."

Evicel was traditionally used to stop bleeding, but now doctors are spraying it on the lungs after surgery to stop air leaks.

Farid Gharagozloo, MD Surgeon, says "So our goal is to make sure that the patient can leave the operating room without an air leak in most of the time."

This sealant contains two proteins found in human plasma. They start out in separate syringes and combine at the tip to form a material called fibrin. When you add air pressure, this gel turns into a white spray. "The fibrin material then matures into scar tissue as time goes on and then just becomes basically part of the healing process of the body," says Dr. Gharagozloo.

A clinical study showed 96% of patients who had the sealant applied after surgery, had no air leaks in their lungs. "It's huge because it changes not only the patient's experience with the operation, but it allows for the minimally invasive procedure to have shorter hospitalization," says Dr. Gharagozloo.

Joel is back walking every day. "Any day I wake up is a fantastic thing. I'm living ? I'm breathing ? I'm here."

And thanks to a successful surgery, he's excited about the road ahead.

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