BRONCHOSCOPIC REPAIR OF AIR LEAKS
IN A LUNG
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/493,933, titled BRONCHOSCOPIC 5 REPAIR OF AIR LEAKS IN A LUNG, filed Aug. 8, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention 10 The invention relates in general to the field of pulmonary
treatments, and specifically to a bronchoscopic method of treating air leaks in a lung.
2. Description of the Related Art
Air leaks that allow air inhaled through a person's mouth to 15 leak out of a lung and into the pleural cavity or other cavity within the person's chest are frequently experienced by people with severe emphysema or other chronic pulmonary disorders. In the pathology of air leaks, there is a disruption of the lung pleura, parenchyma (tissue) and airways producing 20 abnormal direct communication of inspired air to the thoracic cavity. Also, air leaks are a common complication of lung surgery and lung trauma. This undesired flow of air into the pleural cavity can ultimately lead to severe pneumothorax and collapse of the lungs caused by the loss of the normal 25 pressure differential between the pleural cavity and the lung. Alveolar-pleural fistulas refer to a communication between the lung parenchyma and the pleural space and is commonly observed after trauma or in patients with weak and diseased lungs. Broncho-pleural fistulas are communications between 30 the mainstream lobar, lobar or segmental bronchus and the pleural space and in many cases are consequence of surgery.
Typical treatment of air leaks involves the placement of chest tubes connected to a water trap/seal system to allow the leaked air to be drained from the pleural cavity in order to 35 prevent tension pneumothorax and hopefully reverse the collapse of the lung. Some air leaks heal quickly within a few days without the need for intervention. Others, however, can take weeks or longer, while still others ultimately require surgery to resolve the leak. 40
Some bronchoscopic solutions have been developed for treatment of air leaks. For example the use of various plugs, glues, adhesives, and sealing agents have been used, with limited success. One problem with such occlusive devices is that they tend to dislodge from the patient's lung when the 45 patient coughs. Thus, there remains a need for improvements to bronchoscopic air leak treatment procedures and systems.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention addresses that need. Thus, one embodiment of an improved system for treating air leaks comprises means for identifying and sizing the lung airways that lead to the air leak, means for occluding those select airways to permit the leak to heal, and means for delivering 55 and removing the occluding device as desired. An improved method comprises identifying and sizing lung airways that lead to the air leak, including identifying the fistula causing the air leak, delivering an occluding device to one or more of those airways to permit the air leak to heal, and removing the 60 occluding device after the air leak has healed.
With regard to the present inventive system, the means for identifying the lung airways to be occluded is preferably, but not necessarily, a balloon catheter adapted to be used for identification and mapping of the airways communicating 65 with a disrupted area of a lung. The balloon catheter may also be used as well to size the identified airways to select an
appropriately sized intra-bronchial occlusion device for treatment. In the preferred embodiment, the occlusion device is a one-way valve expandable into place within the select airways, such as the devices disclosed in co-pending applications Ser. Nos. 09/951,105; 10/317,667; 10/103,487; 10/124, 790; 10/143,353 and 10/150,547, all of which are incorporated herein by reference. In an alternative embodiment, the occlusion device need not be a valve, but can be a device that precludes any fluid communication therethrough. In either case, it is preferred that the occlusion device include anchoring means, such as barbs, to preclude dislodging of the occlusion device once positioned in place. Valve action also minimizes dislodging by permitting the venting of some back pressure otherwise built up when the patient coughs.
If desired, medicants can be embedded in and/or coated on the occluding device. Alternatively or in addition, once the occluding device is in place, medicants could be injected into the airway on a distal side of the device to facilitate and/or accelerate the sealing and closure of the leaks.
The methods described herein involve minimally invasive procedures for treating air leaks in a patient's lung, including conditions created by alveolar-pleural fistulas and bronchopleural fistulas. There are many advantages to treating an air leak by deploying an occlusion device in a bronchial passageway. Providing a bronchial occlusion upstream from an air leak in accordance with the present methods can cause the air leakage out of the lung to be slowed, or preferably stopped. This will generally result in a reduction, elimination or prevention of pneumothorax caused by the air leak. At the same time, the reduction or elimination of airflow through the fistula is expected to allow the tissue surrounding the fistula to heal more quickly, thereby permanently closing the air leak.
As used herein, the term "air leak" is a broad term, and is used in its ordinary sense and refers, without limitation, to any flow of air exiting a lung by any unintended or undesired path. Also, as used herein, the term "fistula" is a broad term, and is used in its ordinary sense and refers, without limitation, to an abnormal passage providing fluid communication between a lung airway an another organ or cavity within a patient. For example, a fistula as referred to herein may generally include peripheral bronchopleural fistulas, bronchocutaneous fistulas, or any other fistulas causing an air leak. Such fistulas can be caused by trauma, thoracic surgery, irradiation, or disease such as necrotizing pneumonia, empyema, emphysema, etc. The methods and devices described herein are intended to be useful in treating air leaks, regardless of their specific cause.
As used herein, the terms "occlusion device" and "intrabronchial occlusion device" are broad terms, and are used in their ordinary sense and refer, without limitation, to any object deployed in an airway that occludes the flow of air in either inspiratory or expiratory directions (or both) through the airway in which the device is deployed. The term is intended to include valves, plugs, ball bearings, injectable occluding substances such as glues or polymers, or any other object capable of occluding an airway.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a pair of lungs.
FIG. 2 is a cross-section of a lung portion schematically illustrating a delivery and deployment system.
FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating one embodiment of a method of mapping and selecting airways in fluid communication with an air leak.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one embodiment of an intra bronchial occlusion device.