EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus have performed El Paso’s first successful breakthrough lung procedure using the Zephyr Valve Procedure, which is used to treat patients suffering from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, according to a press release sent by the hospital.

The hospital says the Zephyr Value treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that allows a doctor to place one or more small valves in the patient’s airways, which releases trapped pockets of air to help patients breathe easier and do more without many of the risks associated with major surgery.

Emphysema is a form of COPD in which the air sacs in the lungs are weakened or ruptured causing them to not work properly and allowing air to become trapped in the damaged areas, according to the hospital.

“We are thrilled to bring this technology and treatment to El Paso to give our patients better treatment options and improve their quality of life,” Dr. Adolfo Anchondo, Pulmonary and Critical Care specialist who performed the first procedure said. “For many of our patients suffering with severe emphysema or COPD, we see that they become very limited in the activities they can do because of the severity this disease has on their body – this procedure finally gives us a better option to treat them and helps restore their breathing.”

The hospital says over 15 million Americans suffer from COPD, and 3.5 million of those patients have emphysema.

Despite using COPD medications, over 1 million emphysema patients continue to suffer symptoms of hyperinflation, in which air becomes trapped in the lungs and prevents new air from coming in, causing severe shortness of breath. Breathing becomes inefficient and patients must work very hard just to breathe and do normal activities, like walking, eating or even bathing.

In addition, there are few treatment options for most patients with emphysema and there is no cure.

“Congratulations to Dr. Anchondo and the entire team on this significant milestone – this has been a multi-year journey to bring this needed procedure to El Paso,” Rob J. Anderson, chief executive officer for The Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus said. “We continue to be committed to advancing and expanding treatment options for our community so that patients can receive the high-quality care they deserve close to home.”