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Bronchial Thermoplasty Treatment for Severe Asthma

New minimally invasive surgical procedure provides relief to patients with asthma

McLaren Port Huron is pleased to offer an innovative procedure for patients whose severe asthma is currently not being controlled by daily asthma medications. Bronchial thermoplasty, an outpatient bronchoscopy procedure, complements current prescriptions that can be taken to maintain asthma by providing long lasting asthma control and leading to overall improvement of life for patients suffering from severe asthma.

How the procedure is performed

Bronchial thermoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that delivers heat to the airway walls in the lungs, which has been shown to limit the ability of the airway smooth muscles to constrict and narrow the airways. As a result, patients treated with bronchial thermoplasty have been shown to have a decrease in severe asthma attacks.

Bronchial thermoplasty is performed over three separate outpatient surgical visits in which the patient requires moderate sedation. During the procedure, a catheter is inserted through the nose or mouth that reaches the lungs that carries the thermal energy along the patient's airway to decrease the amount of airway smooth muscle. The reduction of airway smooth muscle reduces the patient's airways to constrict, which ultimately lessens the likelihood of asthma attacks.

A total of three separate procedures are needed and each targets a different area of the lung. Each procedure is scheduled about three weeks apart. The thermal energy is transmitted in 10 second intervals. After all three procedures, treatment is complete.

View additional videos about asthma and treatment for asthma.  You may also read this brochure describing the treatment for adults with severe asthma.

Advanced Treatment Options for Severe Asthma available at McLaren Port Huron is discussed by Michael Basha, DO, Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist

Sustainable outcomes: Controlling severe asthma 24/7

Bronchial thermoplasty has been clinically proven to be a long-lasting procedure demonstrating the following benefits in the first year of follow-up:

  • 32% reduction in asthma attacks
  • 84% reduction in emergency room visits for symptoms of the respiratory system
  • 73% reduction in hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms
  • 66% reduction in days lost from work/school/other daily activities because of asthma

In addition, reductions in asthma attacks, ER visits, and hospitalizations decreased significantly after year two, because respiratory symptoms were maintained.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bronchial Thermoplasty

Q: What is bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient bronchoscopy procedure that delivers heat to the airway walls in the lungs, which has been shown to limit the ability of the airway smooth muscles to constrict and narrow the airways.  As a result, patients treated with bronchial thermoplasty have been shown to have a decrease in severe asthma attacks and improved quality of life.

Q: What are the benefits and risks of bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty has been shown to improve asthma-related quality of life and asthma control -- including decreased severe asthma attacks, reduced ER visits and hospitalization for respiratory symptoms and less days lost from work, school and other daily activities due to asthma.  As with any procedure, there are risks and individual results can vary.  Risks may include an increase and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms immediately following the procedure (within 1-7 days) that could result in the need for hospitalization.

Q: Will I be able to stop taking my asthma medications?

A: While bronchial thermoplasty has been shown to reduce severe asthma attacks and improve asthma control, it does not cure asthma or replace current asthma medications.  You will need to continue to follow up with your primary asthma physician to manage your asthma.

Q: Am I a candidate for bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty delivered by the Alair® System is approved by the FDA for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled by ICS and LABA.  Further consultation with a physician trained on bronchial thermoplasty will help determine whether you are a proper candidate to benefit from this procedure.

Q: Who performs bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty is performed at a hospital by a pulmonologist who is specially trained to perform bronchoscopy procedures and bronchial thermoplasty.  McLaren Port Huron one of four hospitals in Michigan and the only hospital within the Thumb region to offer bronchial thermoplasty.

Q: Is bronchial thermoplasty covered by insurance?

A: Coverage policies and payment vary by payer.  You are encouraged to contact your payer prior to having bronchial thermoplasty to confirm coverage and payment and to obtain pre-authorization as needed.  Bronchial thermoplasty has been pre-authorized on a case-by-case basis by several payers.

Q: What will happen during the procedure?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty is often performed under moderate sedation and typically takes less than an hour to complete a treatment session.  The heat is delivered to the airway walls in the lungs with a small catheter through a standard bronchoscope that is accessed through the mouth or nose (no incision is required).  After the procedure, you will be monitored for two to four hours and discharged home the same day.  To treat the entire lung, the complete bronchial thermoplasty procedure is performed in three separate treatment sessions, each scheduled approximately three weeks apart.  A consultation with the treating physician will provide you with more details on what to expect during and after the procedure.

Q: How can I learn more about bronchial thermoplasty?

A: To learn more about bronchial thermoplasty, call HealthAccess at 1-800-228-1484. You may download a brochure or may go to www.BTforAsthma.com.