Zephyr Valve Treatment Option Now Offered For Patients With Severe COPD/Emphysema

January 22, 2020

(HICKORY, N.C., Jan. 22, 2020) – Frye Regional Medical Center is now offering a new lung valve treatment for patients with severe COPD/emphysema. Recently approved by the FDA under their “Breakthrough Devices” status, the Zephyr Endobronchial Valve treatment represents a major advancement because it is the first minimally invasive procedure to help emphysema sufferers breathe easier without major surgery.

Done through a simple bronchoscopy, the valves improve patients’ quality of life by allowing them to breathe easier, be less short of breath, and be more active and energetic.

 “This treatment has the potential to help a large number of patients in the region,” said Franklin McGuire, MD, an interventional pulmonologist in the FryeCare Lung Center.

FRMC is one of about five hospitals in North Carolina – approximately 100 nationally –  to offer this treatment.


The one-time procedure is done during a simple bronchoscopy that requires no cutting or incisions. During the procedure, on average 4 tiny valves are placed in the airways to block off the diseased parts of the lungs where air gets trapped. Keeping air from getting trapped in the diseased parts of the lung allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and take in more air. This results in patients being able to breathe easier and have less shortness of breath.

A Patient’s Story:

When Billie Fowler’s 11-year old son heard she was able to breathe better following a Zephyr valve lung procedure at Frye Regional Medical Center, he had a very special request.

“He asked me to sing him a Christmas song,” said Fowler, Dr. McGuire’s patient who received

the valve to help treat her emphysema.

“After the procedure, I was able to take a deep breath for the first time in years and do things I

haven’t been able to do.”

Since her procedure, Fowler has been Christmas shopping, went to her son’s middle school

band concert independently and has upcoming travel plans. “I’ve done more in the past week

since receiving the valves than I have in years. I couldn’t be happier!” she said.

About Emphysema

Emphysema is a progressive and life-threatening lung disease, and a severe form of COPD (chronic pulmonary obstructive disease). There is no cure and patients live with severe shortness of breath that keeps them from doing simple daily activities like walking or taking a shower, without pausing to catch their breath or resting.

This extreme shortness of breath is caused when air becomes trapped in parts of the lung that are damaged by the disease. This trapped air causes the damaged areas of the lungs to get larger which puts pressure on the healthy parts of the lungs and diaphragm. During this short procedure, on average a physician places 4 tiny valves in the airways to block off the damaged areas of the lungs so air no longer gets trapped there. This allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and relieves the pressure on the diaphragm, which decreases shortness of breath and makes breathing easier.

Want to Learn More?

For more information about the technology, call (828) 322-2005. Read the fact sheet for more information.