Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital now offers bronchial thermoplasty, a novel treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for asthma. Asthma patients who received bronchial thermoplasty during clinical trials demonstrated significant improvement in their asthma symptoms as well as a reduction in the number of severe asthma flare-ups and emergency department visits.
“Bronchial thermoplasty uses mild heat to reduce the amount of excess smooth muscle tissue in the airways,” said Salman Alim, M.D., pulmonary disease and critical care physician affiliated with Memorial Hermann Northeast. “Less muscle tissue means less airway constriction during an asthma attack. As a result, the majority of treated patients can breathe more easily and are less likely to have an asthma attack.”
With the patient under light sedation, an interventional pulmonologist guides a long, flexible tube through the patient's mouth as far as possible down each airway. An attached camera and light allows the physician to view the airway on a video screen.
The thermoplasty device travels inside the tube with an array of electrodes on its tip that extends and expands to make contact with the airway walls. The electrodes are then heated with radiofrequency energy, shrinking the muscle and creating a larger opening or airway. Bronchial thermoplasty is done in three separate treatments, each focusing on different sections of the lungs.
“Bronchial thermoplasty is a breakthrough treatment for severe asthma,” added Dr. Alim. “There is no other treatment option for my severe asthma patients that can simultaneously decrease the number of severe asthma attacks, reduce the number of ER visits resulting from respiratory-related symptoms and increase a patient’s quality of life overall with fewer days lost from work, school, and other activities due to asthma symptoms.”
Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the world. The prevalence of asthma has grown in recent decades, and there is no cure. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 20 million Americans have asthma, and managing asthma consumes over $18 billion of health care resources each year. Annually in the United States, asthma attacks result in approximately 10 million outpatient visits, 2 million emergency rooms visits, 500,000 hospitalizations, and 4,000 deaths.
For more information, call 713-222-CARE or visit www.memorialhermann.org/northeast.