Bronchial thermoplasty is a new treatment recently approved by the FDA for patients with severe asthma that is not well-controlled by medication.
In patients with asthma, the airways become inflamed repeatedly. This repeated, ongoing (or chronic) inflammation can cause the smooth muscle surrounding the airways to become thickened. This can constrict the airways and cause difficulty breathing. Bronchial thermoplasty treats asthma by using heat energy to reduce the thickness of the smooth muscle surrounding the airways. This makes it harder for the airways to constrict and improves breathing.
Bronchial thermoplasty takes place over the course of three separate procedures. One procedure is performed for each of the lower lobes of the lungs, and one for both upper lobes. It is important to know that bronchial thermoplasty can only be performed once on each lobe of the lungs. A patient who receives the full treatment will not be able to receive it a second time. Clinical studies of bronchial thermoplasty have shown that it improves asthma control, including quality of life, and that it results in fewer visits to the emergency room for asthma symptoms, and fewer days of school or work missed, for up to one year following treatment.