BACKGROUND: Lung volume reduction with endobronchial valves can significantly improve functional outcomes in patients with advanced emphysema. The extent and spatial distribution pattern of emphysema shows considerable heterogeneity, which might affect response to endobronchial valve treatment. Our aim was to study the effect of emphysema heterogeneity on change in clinical outcomes after endobronchial valve treatment.
METHODS: Data were collected from our national registry of patients who received endobronchial valve treatment between 2016 and 2020. We assessed the association between the heterogeneity index, absolute difference in destruction between the target and ipsilateral lobe, and relative change in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV 1), residual volume (RV), St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and 6-min walk distance (6MWD) at 6-week, 6-month and 12-month follow-up.
RESULTS: In total, 236 patients were included. Heterogeneity index was significantly associated with improvements in FEV 1, RV and 6MWD at all follow-up visits, and in SGRQ at the 6- and 12-month follow-up visits. The majority of patients, independent of heterogeneity index, showed clinically meaningful improvements based on minimal important difference thresholds.
CONCLUSIONS: Heterogeneity index influences the degree of clinical improvement after endobronchial valve treatment where in general a more heterogeneous distribution translates to larger improvements. However, patients with a more homogeneous distribution also showed clinically meaningful improvements. Therefore, we believe emphysema heterogeneity alone should not be used as a decisive patient selection criterion, but should be weighed in the context of all other relevant patient and target lobe characteristics when deciding on a patient's treatment eligibility.