NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Up to 24 million adults may have COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Emphysema is the best-known form, but chronic bronchitis can be just as debilitating.
Doctors at Temple Health are testing a treatment which may be the first new hope in decades.
After more than 30 years of smoking, Daniel Lofton finally kicked the habit.
"It was July 12, it was 9 years," Lofton says, proudly.
But he still got chronic bronchitis from the earlier damage.
"I couldn't walk, not even a quarter of a block without getting out of breath," he says.
"Emphysema is the destruction of the alveoli, which are the little air sacks in the lung," says Dr. Victor Kim, a pulmonologist with the Temple Lung Center.
"Chronic bronchitis is more of an inflammation of the airways," says Dr. Kim.
Dr. Kim says smoking is the main cause for chronic bronchitis, but there are others:
"Such as exposures to dusts, gases and fumes, biomass fuel exposure, and marijuana smoking vaping," he notes.
Antibiotics and steroids can give short-term relief, but there's no cure for chronic bronchitis, and long-term treatments have been limited.
Temple is one of the U.S. sites testing a new option called RheOx.
It uses a bronchoscope, a flexible tube with a camera on the end, to go into the lungs.
"Where we deliver the electrical energy and destroy the mucus-producing cells in the lining of the lung," says Dr. Kim. "And then the patients are recovered and go home that same day,"
The treatment is done one lung at a time, about a month apart, and takes about 30 minutes.
The first studies with RheOx showed significant reductions in coughing and mucus, and a significant improvement in overall quality of life.
Dr. Kim is hopeful the promising results continue.
"This new procedure can really help patients in long term without the use of potentially toxic medicines or medicines that have side effects," he says.
Trials are still open for patients.
For more information, call Temple Health at 215-707-1359 or visit RheOx cliinical trial.