COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis

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COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, refers to two related conditions: emphysema -- when air sacs in the lungs that help transfer oxygen into the blood are destroyed -- and chronic bronchitis -- when airways leading to the lungs become inflamed, irritated, and scarred. No matter whether you have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, Duke’s nationally ranked lung program offers the latest diagnostic tools and treatments to reduce your COPD symptoms, increase your lung function, and improve your quality of life.

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Helping You Manage COPD at Every Stage

If you struggle with wheezing, coughing, extreme shortness of breath, or frequent lung infections, our team of specialists can help. We offer the latest diagnostic tools for diagnosing COPD, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema early. We can help you control your symptoms through a personalized treatment plan that may include medicine, lifestyle changes, and our pulmonary rehabilitation program.

If you are in a later stage of COPD and don’t respond to traditional treatment options, we may evaluate whether you are a candidate for a more invasive therapy, such as surgical or bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, or a lung transplant. No matter which course of treatment you receive, our team is committed to helping you control your COPD symptoms and maximize your lung function.​

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Smoking Cessation Assistance

Research has found that stopping smoking reduces the risks of COPD progressing or getting worse, no matter how old you are or the stage of your illness. We offer several excellent smoking cessation programs and aids to help you kick the habit.

Inhaled and Oral Medications

Medications can relax the muscles and reduce inflammation around your airways, allowing them to expand and let more air through. This makes it easier to breathe.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Improves your lung function and prevents flare-ups that may cause emergency room or hospital visits.

Inhaled Oxygen Therapy

Allows you to pursue more activities at home or when you go out, exercise more, and feel more comfortable in daily life.

Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)

For certain patients, LVRS can improve chances of survival and quality of life while decreasing your need for oxygen. During LVRS, your doctor removes a diseased portion of your lung, allowing your healthy lung tissues to expand and function better.

Lung Transplant

A transplant may be the recommended course of treatment for people with advanced lung disease.

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Pulmonary Function Tests (Including Spirometry)

These tests determine whether you have COPD and the stage of your illness by measuring the amount of air in your lungs and the rate at which they empty.

Imaging Tests

CT scans take detailed 3-D images to help us evaluate your lung anatomy and lung function.

Best Hospital for Pulmonology and Lung Surgery in NC
When it comes to your care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked pulmonology and lung surgery program was named best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Choosing Where to Receive COPD Treatment

Dedicated Airway Research Center
Our lung disease program includes a dedicated airway research center and a lung transplant team that is among the most active in the nation. In addition, lung care programs around the world have sought our pulmonary rehabilitation program as models for their own.

A Team of Experts
Your personal care team may include lung doctors (pulmonologists), counselors, rehab specialists, and other healthcare professionals. Your team will address your unique healthcare needs, helping you manage your emphysema or chronic bronchitis, as well as your COPD symptoms.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
Our five-week pulmonary rehabilitation program teaches you how to exercise, eat right, quit smoking, lose weight, and make other lifestyle changes that will keep your chronic bronchitis and emphysema under control, improve your COPD symptoms, and maximize your lung function.

Access to Clinical Trials
Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to participate in our active clinical research into the latest COPD treatments.