At Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute, bronchial thermoplasty is part of the comprehensive management and treatment of asthma patients provided by our Asthma Center.
A New Treatment for Asthma
Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, bronchial thermoplasty is a novel treatment method for patients with severe or persistent asthma. Performed as an outpatient procedure, bronchial thermoplasty uses a bronchoscopically-introduced catheter to deliver precisely-controlled thermal energy to the airways.
How does bronchial thermoplasty treat asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways characterized by periodic symptoms of breathlessness, coughing and wheezing. Chronic airway inflammation can lead to an increase in thickness of airway smooth muscle (ASM), which causes airflow constriction and difficulty breathing.
The first asthma treatment modality aimed at reducing the thickness of ASM, bronchial thermoplasty improves a patient’s breathing capacity by reducing the airways’ ability to constrict airflow. Asthma patients who received bronchial thermoplasty during clinical trials have demonstrated significant improvement in their asthma symptoms as well as a reduction in the number of severe asthma flare-ups and emergency department visits.
How is bronchial thermoplasty performed?
A full course of bronchial thermoplasty treatment includes three separate bronchoscopic procedures: one for the each lower lobe of the lung and another for both upper lobes. Each outpatient procedure is performed approximately at least three weeks apart.
Under sedation, a catheter inside a bronchoscope—a thin, flexible tube-like instrument introduced through the patient’s nose or mouth, and into their lungs—delivers thermal energy into the airways. The patient is monitored after the procedure, and usually, returns home that day or early the next day.
Does bronchial thermoplasty have any side effects?
The most frequent side effects from bronchial thermoplasty include:
- Shortness of breath
Who makes a good candidate for bronchial thermoplasty?
To be considered for bronchial thermoplasty treatment, you should:
- Be an adult between 18-65 years old
- Be a non-smoker for at least the past year
- Have severe or persistent asthma not well controlled by inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting bronchodilator medications
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