Bronchial Thermoplasty - An Effective Alternative Asthma Therapy

  • If you're anything like me, you love the idea of treating your asthma with anything other than pumping a foreign chemical into your body. You'd love something more "natural", right? I have good news... there is a new alternative therapy for asthma on the horizon and it's called bronchial thermoplasty.


    This treatment was introduced a few years ago as an experimental therapy and has been thoroughly researched in the years since. A little over a year ago, our expert, Dr. Fred Little, did a great article describing how this treatment works. I highly recommend you read it. You can also watch a video showing the procedure at the Alair Web site.

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    But in a nutshell, bronchial thermoplasty uses a bronchoscope with a heat probe wire to deliver thermal energy to your airways. You get three different treatments to reach all areas of the airways. The heat causes some intentional scarring, which reduces the amount of smooth muscle in the airways. And that lessens asthma symptoms.


    This treatment had great results during the research phase:

    • Four out of five participants had a significant improvement in quality of life
    • 32 percent had less asthma attacks
    • 84 percent had fewer emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms
    • 66 percent missed less days from work/school or other activities

    These results persisted after treatment, too. Because of these positive results, in late October 2009, the Anesthesiology and Respiratory Therapy Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to recommend that the Alair® System, a device utilized in bronchial thermoplasty studies be found approvable with conditions, which include mostly labeling and post-approval studies.


    Now the bad news -- bronchial thermoplasty is only recommended for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older. So, it's not for kids and it's not for those of us with less severe asthma. At least not right now.


    Still, if you're an adult with the most severe form of asthma and it hasn't responded well to medication, you should think about discussing with your doctor whether bronchial thermoplasty might be an effective choice for you once it becomes publicly available.

Published On: January 25, 2010