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St. Rita's starts new asthma procedure PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:00 PM

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LIMA — After months of preparation, St. Rita’s Center for Pulmonary Medicine physicians performed their first bronchial thermoplasty treatment recently.

“We’ve been looking for years to try to find something that allows us to reduce the burden of medicines and improve the control of symptoms in these patients,” said Dr. Marc Rovner.

The new treatment heats the airway walls of the lungs, shrinking the excess amount of muscle that swells, narrowing the airways in severe asthmatic patients. In the two pivotal trials so far (the AIR and AIR 2 trials), the benefit has persisted. The procedure doesn’t burn the airways, it just heats them.

“It warms the airways to about the temperature of a hot cup of coffee,” Rovner said.

There were few adverse effects, Rovner said.

“Patients may have some wheezing in the first week. But it has been manageable in almost all cases. Long term, it seems everyone had some benefit,” he said.

The treatment has been shown to reduce the excess smooth muscle and some of the airway lining, blood vessels and nerves. The lining, blood vessels and nerves grow back. But the restrictive smooth muscle has shown almost no capacity for regeneration, instead being replaced by non-constricting connective tissue. Bronchial Thermoplasty (or BT) is currently performed as a one-time series of three procedures, Rovner said.

There have been no studies on repeat use but so far, one series of treatment has provided lasting improvement.

It involves three sessions separated by three weeks. Treatments involve 60 to 80 heatings or activations. The first treatment is for the lower right lung. The second is for the lower left lung and the third for both upper lungs. The right middle lung is not treated.

 

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