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New procedure helps asthma patients breathe easier

Severe asthma patients seeking treatment at Baptist Health Louisville can now breathe easier with the aid of a new procedure: bronchial thermoplasty.

This minimally invasive procedure is performed using a bronchoscope, which goes through the nose or mouth to the lungs. Thermal energy is delivered to the airway wall in a precisely controlled manner in order to reduce excessive airway smooth muscle (ASM). Reducing ASM decreases the ability of the airways to constrict, thereby reducing the frequency of asthma attacks.

Doctors explain that bronchial thermoplasty is the first real treatment of asthma as a disease as opposed to simply treating symptoms of the disease. The first bronchial thermoplasty was performed at Baptist Louisville in April 2012. Baptist Louisville was one of the first two hospitals in Louisville to offer the treatment.

The procedure is performed at Baptist Louisvilleā€™s Endoscopy unit in three outpatient visits, spaced three weeks apart. On each visit, a different area of the lungs is treated. Moderate sedation is used, allowing patients to generally go home the same day following each visit.

The procedure is intended to complement asthma maintenance medications by providing long-lasting asthma control and improving asthma-related quality of life of patients with severe asthma. In addition to reducing severe asthma attacks, bronchial thermoplasty has been shown to curb emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms, and time lost from work, school and other daily activities due to asthma. In addition, patients are able to reduce the need for aggressive inhaled therapy.

For more information, or a physician referral, call the Baptist Health Information Center at (502) 897-8131.