2021 May 19. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–.
Pulmonary emphysema, a progressive lung disease, is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Global Initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease (GOLD) has defined COPD as "a common, preventable, and treatable disease that is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation that is due to airway and/or alveolar abnormalities usually caused by significant exposure to noxious particles or gases."
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest that it will rise to be the third most common cause of death worldwide by 2020. COPD includes patients with chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Although identified as separate entities, most patients with COPD have features of both. COPD often coexists with comorbidities, which affect the disease course.
Emphysema is primarily a pathological diagnosis that affects the air spaces distal to the terminal bronchiole. It is characterized by abnormal permanent enlargement of lung air spaces with the destruction of their walls without any fibrosis and destruction of lung parenchyma with loss of elasticity.