Vanderbilt University Medical Center now offers the Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty System, which was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Vanderbilt is the first medical center in Nashville to offer the system to asthma patients.

The 1-hour procedure uses a standard flexible bronchoscope that is introduced through the patient’s nose or mouth and into their lungs. The tip of the small-diameter Alair catheter is expanded to contact the walls of targeted airways. Controlled thermal energy is then delivered to the airway walls to reduce the presence of excess airway smooth muscle that narrows the airways with asthma.

“It’s like putting the smooth muscle in a microwave,” said Otis Rickman, DO, director of bronchoscopy and assistant professor of medicine and thoracic surgery at Vanderbilt. “Radiofrequency energy destroys smooth muscle, without harming the bronchial tubes, which is what causes the constriction.”

The minimally invasive procedure is done under moderate sedation, and the patient returns home the same day.

“This new therapy is an adjunct to other therapy and not a cure,” adds Rickman. The Bronchial Thermoplasty System is indicated for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta agonists.

It has shown an 84% reduction in emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms; a 66% reduction in days lost from work, school or other daily activities due to asthma symptoms, and a 73% reduction in hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms.

“What I hope is we may be able to get people off steroids or other IV medications,” said Rickman.

Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center