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Bronchial thermoplasty offers significant improvement for asthmatics in small study

Asthmatic patients showed significant improvement in peak expiratory flow, airway responsiveness and number of symptom-free days after treatment with bronchial thermoplasty, a new procedure designed to reduce the ability of airway smooth muscle to narrow from inflammation.

These results appear in the May 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Gerard Cox, M.B., F.R.C.P.C., of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health in Ontario, Canada, and four associates examined the safety, impact on lung function and airway responsiveness of bronchial thermoplasty on 16 asthma patients over a two-year period. The study cohort included 6 men and 10 women who had an average age of 39.

On each individual, the researchers performed bronchial thermoplasty to lower the potential for muscle-related bronchoconstriction by reducing the mass of smooth muscle in their airways.

In this 30-minute procedure, doctors applied radio frequency thermal energy directly to the airway through a bronchoscope. This radio frequency energy heated the airway tissue to about 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit), a temperature high enough to reduce airway smooth muscle mass, but low enough to avoid tissue destruction and scarring. Three separate sessions were needed to treat all accessible airways of both lungs.

"The procedure was well tolerated," said Dr. Cox. "Side effects were transient and typical of what is commonly observed after bronchoscopy. All subjects also demonstrated improvement in airway responsiveness."

Data collected over 12 weeks from patient-kept diaries indicated that the subjects showed significant improvement in number of symptom-free days, and in morning and evening airway peak flow as determined by a meter. (A peak flow meter is a hand-held device designed to measure how well a person can blow air out of their lungs.)

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Contact: Suzy Martin
smartin@thoracic.org
212-315-8631
American Thoracic Society
1-May-2006


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