ALTOONA – UPMC Altoona has announced that it is now offering an innovative procedure called bronchial thermoplasty for the treatment of severe asthma.
The procedure is being performed by UPMC Altoona medical staff members Mehrdad Ghaffari, M.D., and Michael Zlupko, M.D., both pulmonologists skilled in bronchoscopy and specially trained to perform bronchial thermoplasty.
For an estimated 2 million adults with severe asthma who continue to have asthma-related symptoms despite standard-of-care medications, bronchial thermoplasty is a new outpatient treatment option.
“Bronchial thermoplasty offers most people with severe asthma an opportunity to live life more fully and freely,” said Ghaffari, medical director of UPMC Altoona’s Department of Pulmonary Services. “While it is not a cure for asthma, most patients who have this procedure reduce reliance on asthma medications, find they no longer suffer severe asthma attacks, are no longer chained to rescue inhalers, and reduce their trips to the emergency room for treatments.”
Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient procedure that treats severe asthma by going to the source. The lungs consist of multiple airway passages surrounded by smooth muscle. For people with asthma, this smooth muscle is more susceptible to triggers and irritants that can cause it to constrict and reduce the amount of air that flows through the lungs, explained Zlupko, who trained in bronchial thermoplasty techniques while in fellowship training for Pulmonology at Cleveland Clinic.
Bronchial thermoplasty uses a small catheter to deliver mild heat to the airways of the lung to reduce the amount of excessive smooth muscle. This reduces the muscle’s ability to constrict the airways, resulting in a decreased frequency of asthma attacks, Zlupko said.
“It’s painless and performed under sedation as an outpatient, so after a few hours of observation, the patient goes home the same day,” he said.
To treat the entire lung, the complete bronchial thermoplasty procedure is performed in three separate outpatient treatment sessions, each treating a different area of the lung and scheduled approximately three weeks apart.
Bronchial thermoplasty with the Alair(r) System is approved by the FDA for adults with severe asthma who are not well controlled on current medications, and is expected to complement asthma medications by providing long-lasting asthma control.
As with any procedure, there are risks, including a temporary increase and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms immediately after the procedure that could require hospitalization.
Please talk to your physician to determine whether bronchial thermoplasty is right for you. To learn more about asthma, please go to http://aafa.org. To learn more about bronchial thermoplasty, please visit www.BTforAsthma.com.