Bronchial thermoplasty for severe asthma.
Bronchial thermoplasty (BT) is a novel treatment of patients with severe asthma who continue to be symptomatic despite maximal medical treatment. It aims to reduce the smooth muscle mass in the airways by delivering controlled thermal energy to the airway walls during a series of three bronchoscopies. Randomized controlled clinical trials of BT in severe asthma have not been able to show a reduction in airway hyperresponsiveness or change in FEV(1) but have suggested an improvement in quality of life, as well as a reduction in the rate of severe exacerbations, emergency department visits, and days lost from school or work. Strict inclusion and exclusion criteria of these trials resulted in the elimination of patients with severe asthma who experienced more than three exacerbations per year. Therefore, the generalizability of this treatment to the broader severe asthma population still needs to be determined. The short-term adverse events consist primarily of airway inflammation and occasionally more severe events requiring hospitalization. Long-term safety data are evolving and have shown thus far clinical and functional stability up to 5 years after BT treatment. Additional studies on BT are needed to establish accurate phenotyping of positive responders, durability of effect, and long-term safety.
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