Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Qn: What is Bronchial Thermoplasty?
Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) is a complementary therapy to current asthma medications. It is a minimally invasive bronchoscopic procedure and not a medication.
Qn: How does Bronchial Thermoplasty work?
The machine used to perform the procedure has 2 main parts – a small catheter with 4 wires as well as a console to heat the wires. It is a procedure that mildly heats your airway walls to reduce some of the extra muscle present in the airways to allow the airways to stay more open and help one with severe asthma breathe better.
* Air travels in and out of your lungs through airways. There are smooth muscles in the walls of the airways. People who have severe asthma have larger muscles in their airways than other people. The airways narrow when these muscles contract during an attack. And when the airways close down, it can be harder to breathe causing the chest to feel tight, and one to wheeze of cough.
Qn: How is the procedure performed?
Step 1: Patient will be put under conscious sedation.
Step 2: A bronchoscope will be put through the patient’s nose or mouth into the airway
Step 3: The catheter will be put through the working channel of the bronchoscope. The wires at the end of the catheter will touch the airways.
Step 4: The wires will be heated by the console to reduce some of the airway muscle tissues.
Step 5: The tube and catheter are then removed at the end of the procedure.
Qn: How long is one BT treatment?
BT is performed in three outpatient procedure visits, each treating a different area of the lungs and scheduled approximately three weeks apart.
Each session/procedure will take 45 mins.
After all three procedures are performed, the bronchial thermoplasty treatment is considered complete and need not be repeated in the future.
Qn: Is Bronchial Thermoplasty for everyone?
It is indicated for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in adult patients despite optimisation of inhaler therapy.
Qn: Which patients would not be suitable for this procedure?
People with an implant with electronics ie. pacemaker, as the heat may interfere with the pacemaker
Patients with an active respiratory infection should wait for the infection to clear
Patients who have had an asthma attack or changed their corticosteroid dose within 2 weeks prior to the procedure (i.e. patients have to be stable)
Patients with blood clotting problems, including those on blood thinning medication such as warfarin
Qn: What can the patient expect after the undergoing the procedure?
While the patient will still require the preventive puff (inhaled corticosteroid), patients can expect the following benefits:
Weaning off the oral steriod medication
- Chronic oral steroid treatment comes with side effects which includes high blood pressure, diabetes, increased risk of infection, osteoporosis etc.
Reduced number of attacks
Reduced time away from work/school
Improved quality of life
Qn: Would the patient still require medication after the BT treatment?
While patients will still require the preventive puff, patients can expect to wean off the oral steriod medication. Chronic oral steroid treatment comes with side effects which includes high blood pressure, diabetes, increased risk of infection, osteoporosis etc.
Qn: How soon can the patient experience an improvement in his condition?
Patients have reported to experience some form of improvement rather immediately after the first of the three procedures. Otherwise, patients should experience the improvement within six weeks of the first procedure.