Chronic asthma symptoms can be debilitating. Asthma can limit your physical activity. The asthma attacks, themselves, can be frightening experiences. And the mental strain that comes with not knowing when you might land in the emergency room is enough to significantly affect your quality of life.
Doctors commonly treat asthma with medication that prevents asthma attacks or addresses their symptoms. But for some people, these medications aren’t enough. If your asthma isn’t well controlled with inhalers alone your doctor may recommend a procedure called bronchial thermoplasty.
Bronchial thermoplasty is a technique used to provide relief to adult asthma patients whose asthma can’t be controlled with other treatments alone. The procedure uses radiofrequency energy to thin the muscle walls in your airways without damaging them. The idea is that thinner muscle walls aren’t able to spasm as much, which may lessen the frequency of your attacks.
Doctors have found that people with severe asthma who were treated with bronchial thermoplasty had fewer:
- Asthma attacks
- Emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms
- Days lost from work, school or other daily activities because of asthma symptoms
- Hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms
Bronchial thermoplasty is done in an outpatient setting. During the procedure your doctor inserts a flexible tube, called a bronchoscope, through the nose or mouth. Your doctor then navigates to the specific treatment area in your airway. The tool at the end of the tube then delivers energy to the airway walls to reduce smooth muscle and keep the airway from constricting.
Treatment takes place over three one-hour sessions. Most patients can go home the same day, and many enjoy a significantly improved quality of life.