Emphysema at 20x Magnification
The damage to the lungs caused by emphysema is irreversible. A successful lung transplant is the closest that a patient with the disease can currently come to a cure, but many individuals that such a procedure could potentially aid are not physically fit enough to undergo it. Accordingly, other, less invasive, treatments for emphysema are much more common. Bronchodilators are often recommended to help combat constriction of the airways, corticosteroids can soothe inflammation, and oxygen therapy is typically provided to individuals in an advanced state of the disease to counteract oxygen deficiency (hypoxemia). Some emphysema patients also elect to undergo lung reduction surgery, a minimally invasive medical procedure that involves only a few small incisions, through which a small camera and stapling device can be inserted so that damaged portions of the lung can be cut away, providing healthy tissue with additional space for expansion.