During a bronchial thermoplasty procedure, a catheter is introduced into the airway via a bronchoscope. The catheter delivers low-power, temperature-controlled, radiofrequency energy to the airway. The application of heat to the airway wall is intended to reduce the amount of excessive airway smooth muscle present in the airways and limit its ability to contract and narrow the airway. After each activation the catheter is repositioned and subsequent activations are performed contiguously (adjacent but not overlapping) along the airway.
The procedure is performed over the course of three sessions, with a three week break between each session. In each session, a different portion of the airway is treated. First, the right lower lobe, then the left lower lobe and finally the bilateral upper lobes. This is important for allowing patients to recover between sessions and begin to experience the benefits of this treatment.
All patients are placed under general anesthesia with an anesthesiologist present throughout the procedure. This allows patients to remain calm and decreases the risk of complications. Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to return home the same day.
How it Works
During an asthma attack, the smooth muscle in the airway constricts, making it difficult or nearly impossible for the patient to breathe. Bronchial thermoplasty reduces the amount of smooth muscle in the airway, decreasing a patient’s risk of having an asthma attack. The procedure is performed over the course of three sessions, with a three-week break between each session.
All patients are placed under general anesthesia with an anesthesiologist present throughout the procedure. This allows the patients to remain calm and decreases the risk of complications. Since patients are seen on an outpatient basis, most will return home the same day.
Who is a Potential Candidate?
Any patient over the age of 18 with:
- Severe asthma
- Asthma that is being treated by multiple medications with symptoms still present
- Asthma exacerbations can be reduced by up to 30 percent
- Days lost from school or work can be reduced by up to 66 percent
- Emergency Department visits reduced by over 80 percent
- Reduced medication use
- Improved function for patients