When you come to Mayo Clinic for help with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you'll find a team of experts who take the time to listen to your concerns and consider every aspect of your care. This team of specialists provides coordinated, comprehensive care for COPD and related conditions, including a rare genetic form of emphysema that is often unrecognized — alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
A team focused on you
COPD and related conditions can have serious and long-term effects on your quality of life. They can become progressively worse, even fatal, if not properly treated. It's important that you get appropriate care to treat your symptoms and prolong your life. The multispecialty team of the COPD Clinic includes experts in lung disease (Pulmonary Medicine), Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Lung Transplant, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Psychology and Psychiatry, and the Nicotine Dependence Center. Your doctors are committed to finding the best solution for you and working with you to develop a personalized care plan.
Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?
Connect with others like you for support and answers to your questions in the Lung Health group on Mayo Clinic Connect, a patient community.
Your care is coordinated by a dedicated pulmonary medicine nursing team that manages seamless transitions from in-hospital care, to outpatient, rehabilitation and in-home pulmonary rehabilitation, as needed.
Expertise and rankings
Mayo Clinic is one of the leading treatment centers for COPD and related lung diseases. Each year, specialists on its campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota evaluate and treat thousands of people with COPD and related conditions. Mayo Clinic is recognized for top-quality pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine by a variety of national organizations.
Mayo Clinic offers the latest treatments, including bronchoscopy lung volume reduction, which is a minimally invasive procedure that results in fewer side effects and a shorter hospital stay compared with surgical lung volume reduction.
Nationally recognized expertise
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for pulmonology by U.S. News and World Report.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for respiratory disorders by U.S. News and World Report.
Advanced diagnosis and treatment
A noninvasive procedure to improve breathing with emphysema
Sebastian Fernandez-Bussy, M.D.: So patients who have COPD, they could have emphysema, which is damage of the lung tissue. And they get like holes in the lungs because of this damage. And they have problems breathing and their quality of life is poor because of this. Now chronic bronchitis patient are also part of the COPD group. That means chronic inflammation of the airways. And also a third group is a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. So those patients with advanced emphysema that have these holes in the lungs, those holes interfere with the oxygen, with the availability of the oxygen to go into the bloodstream and the CO2 to get out of your body.
Fernandez-Bussy: So that's one of the reasons they have difficulty breathing. But the other reason is that the lungs of people with advanced emphysema, because of these holes, are very big. So this increase in size interferes with the patient taking a big breath. Their lungs are already too big in the chest cavity, so they cannot take a deep breath. That's why we need to reduce the volume — so shrink that part of the line that has the most emphysema.
Fernandez-Bussy: So patients who have advanced emphysema can undergo our full medical treatment and still their breathing is not good. We can provide a minimally invasive treatment, which is called endoscopic lung volume reduction. And what we do is place endobronchial valves, bronchoscopically. So this is not a surgery. This is a procedure.
Fernandez-Bussy: So the patient is under anesthesia, and we go down with a small scope through the mouth, into the lungs. And we go to the place that we have already pre-selected that has the most damage. And over there we place very tiny valves that are one-way valves. That means that they do not allow air to go into that part of the lung, but it will allow air to get out of that part of the lung. So with time, the part of the lung that has the most emphysema will get deflated. It will shrink. And that will allow the rest of the lung with less emphysema to have more space to expand and function. And the people will achieve a better breathing and a better quality of life.
Fernandez-Bussy: So the benefit of shrinking the lung for the patient is to improve their breathing. So they will be able to take bigger breaths. And also they will be able to need less oxygen if they are already on oxygen or maybe come off oxygen. This treatment does not cure emphysema. So what it does is improve the quality of life of these patients by improving their breathing. So in the past, surgical lung volume reduction was the only option for this patient to achieve this lung volume reduction. But now, with endoscopic lung volume reduction, we can increase the range of patients that are eligible to this type of procedure and with less morbidity.
Successful treatment starts with an accurate diagnosis. Whether you're newly diagnosed or have been living with COPD or a related condition for years, you'll be seen by doctors who have access to the latest diagnostic and treatment services so that you get the exact care you need.
Our doctors use a robotic bronchoscopy system to allow for safer sampling of suspect lung tissue without losing the effectiveness of the standard method — CT-guided biopsy. Robotic bronchoscopy also gives access to areas of the lungs that can't be reached by standard bronchoscopy.
After undergoing a thorough assessment, you'll receive a full treatment plan tailored to your needs. A range of inpatient and outpatient treatment options will be considered. Your plan might include one or more of the following:
- Medications, such as bronchodilators
- Oxygen therapy
- Endoscopic lung volume reduction, which is a minimally invasive procedure with fewer side effects compared with surgical lung volume reduction
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- In-home noninvasive ventilation therapy
Home-based pulmonary rehabilitation
People with significant COPD symptoms may be eligible to undergo pulmonary rehabilitation in their home. Mayo Clinic's home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program includes health coaching and in-home technology that monitors activity and well-being. The program can be done regardless of where the participant resides. The program has proven to improve quality of life and decrease emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
Home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program elements
If surgery is the best option for you, you'll consult with a surgeon with advanced training in lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplant. Mayo Clinic is a major center for lung transplant. The lung transplant team performs more than 50 lung transplants a year.
The experts of the COPD clinic help people with the following lung problems:
Tests and procedures
When being evaluated in the COPD Clinic, you might undergo one or more of the following tests and procedures:
- Arterial blood gas analysis
- Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP)
- Chest X-ray
- CT-guided biopsy
- CT scan
- Endobronchial ultrasound biopsy
- Endoscopic lung volume reduction surgery
- In-home noninvasive ventilation therapy
- Lung (pulmonary) function tests
- Lung transplant
- Lung volume reduction surgery
- Mindful breathing
- Oxygen therapy
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Radial endobronchial ultrasound biopsy
- Rigid bronchoscopy
- Robotic bronchoscopy
- Stop smoking services
Research leading to new options for you
Pulmonary scientists in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Research conduct comprehensive basic and clinical research ― including conducting clinical trials ― to improve early diagnosis and better treatment options for diseases such as COPD and emphysema. Mayo Clinic was one of 10 clinical centers for the Lung Health Studies, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which yielded landmark studies. The clinic's researchers also participated in the COPD Clinical Research Network, the Lung Tissue Research Consortium, the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, the Spiral CT Lung Cancer Screening Trial, the National Lung Screening Trial and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease.
Examples of research efforts focused on improving people's lives include:
- Offering research participants an opportunity to test new pulmonary rehabilitation approaches in the Mindful Breathing Laboratory
- Testing how a regenerative medicine approach using stem cells be used to treat COPD
- Evaluating and developing better interventions for obstructive lung diseases
- Understanding how the airways become scarred in COPD and certain interstitial lung diseases
- Understanding how cigarette smoking and e-cigarette exposure promote the scarring of asthma and COPD
- Studying the role of fungal organisms in the development and progression of lung diseases such as asthma and COPD
- Participating in a multicenter trial to evaluate an innovative robotic bronchoscopy system
Mayo Clinic researchers are involved in studies to evaluate potential treatments (clinical trials) for COPD and related conditions. You may have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, whether you're newly diagnosed with COPD or have been living with it for a long time. Ask your doctor about clinical trials that might be right for you.
Our clinical trials include experimental treatments, often unavailable elsewhere, which frequently lead to improved COPD care for people worldwide. Learn more about COPD clinical trials at Mayo Clinic.
- Robert P. Benzo, M.D.
- Chandrasagar (Sagar) Dugani, M.D., Ph.D.
- Megan M. Dulohery Scrodin, M.D.
- Y.S. Prakash, M.D., Ph.D.
- Joseph H. Skalski, M.D.
- Karen L. Swanson, D.O.
- James P. Utz, M.D.
- Robert Vassallo, M.D.
You may be referred by your primary doctor, or you may make an appointment without a referral. Availability of services may vary among Mayo Clinic locations. Please confirm when you call to request an appointment.