"If you think of the lung as something like a sponge, a bath sponge with all the little bubbles, it destroys the walls between those bubbles," says Armin Ernst, M.D., Chief of Interventional Pulmonology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass.
The destroyed walls make it difficult for patients to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide.
"I feel like I am suffocating," Barbara says.
Dr. Ernst is studying a minimally invasive treatment that could help. During the procedure, doctors place a bronchoscope through the mouth, then make six small openings … openings to help the patient breathe. Stents are then inserted to keep the holes from collapsing.
"The stents are covered with a medication that's called Taxol that is designed to prevent this from happening," Dr. Ernst says.
Barbara's husband hopes the treatment will help her live more comfortably.
"There's always the concern of how much it will do to her and ultimately limiting the length of our life together," Martin Greenfield says.
She hopes she'll be breathing a little easier.
"This is my only hope -- it's not gonna cure me, but it is going to perhaps make my life a little simpler," Barbara says.
The study is in its early stages and could last several years.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
EASE Stent Trials:
Bronchus Technologies, Inc.