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Bronchial Thermoplasty

A New Approach to Treating Severe Asthma

The Pulmonary team at UI Health is one of only a few programs in Chicago to offer a new outpatient procedure called Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) through our Interventional Pulmonology Program. Dr. Kevin Kovitz, the director of the program, is one of the leading interventional pulmonologists in the country. He provides a unique expertise in minimally invasive procedures to best diagnose and treat patients with lung disease, including Bronchial Thermoplasty.

What is Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT)?
Bronchial thermoplasty is a new outpatient procedure for severe asthma patients 18 years and older, who still have asthma symptoms despite appropriate medication treatments. The procedure is the first available nondrug treatment for asthma.

What is Severe Asthma?
Air travels in and out of your lungs through airways. The airways can narrow due to inflammation or muscle contraction due to many causes. When airways narrow it can be harder to breathe. Your chest may feel tight. You may wheeze or cough. Asthma medicines usually open up the airways, but for some people, other options need to be considered.

How Does the Procedure Work?
Bronchial thermoplasty (BT) uses heat to reduce the smooth muscles in the airways that usually tighten and cause constriction during asthma attacks. By reducing airway smooth muscle, the frequency of asthma attacks decreases due to the inability of the airways to constrict.

How is the Procedure Performed?
Once the patient is placed under moderate sedation, the physician places a standard flexible tube (called a bronchoscope) into the airway through either the nose or the mouth.  A catheter is introduced by way of the bronchoscope and delivers energy to the airway wall for a maximum of 10 seconds per activation, for controlled reduction of the airway muscle. The physician repeats this process in all of the accessible airways planned for each bronchoscopy session. Typically, three separate outpatient sessions are required to complete the treatment.

What are the Key Benefits?
BT complements asthma maintenance medications by providing long-lasting asthma control and improving asthma-related quality of life of patients with severe asthma.  Adults treated with Bronchial Thermoplasty had improved asthma-related quality of life, including:

  • Reduced Asthma attacks
  • Reduced Emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms
  • Reduced Hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms
  • Reduced Days lost from work, school, or other daily activities due to asthma symptoms

What are the Risks and Side Effects of Bronchial Thermoplasty?
In some cases, patients who receive BT have their asthma symptoms briefly get worse, occasionally leading to hospitalization, in the days after the treatment. In order to decrease the chance of an asthma attack or need for hospitalization, patients typically take a 3-day short course of prednisone beginning the day prior to the procedure. Talk with your physician about your particular risk factors.

Schedule an Appointment
Call 312.996.2740 or click here to schedule an appointment