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How often do these valves succeed? That’s not yet clear. The Food and Drug Administration approved “humanitarian use” of the IBV valve for prolonged surgical air leaks _ an option that lets promising novel options for rare conditions sell, with some profit restrictions, before large effectiveness studies are done. With a shorter hospital stay, it’s cheaper than air-leak surgery, yet prominent IBV researcher Dr. Robert Cerfolio of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said few doctors know about the option.

Temple University researchers last fall published outcomes of 40 patients implanted with a similar but still experimental valve now owned by competitor Pulmonx Inc., and found nearly 48 percent had their leak completely sealed and most of the rest improved.

But both companies have a bigger aim: To treat advanced emphysema by redirecting air from scarred lung spots and into healthier areas of the lung. Spiration’s emphysema study is ongoing; Pulmonx has clearance to sell its valve in parts of Europe and is preparing for a U.S. study.

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EDITOR’s NOTE _ Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.