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Bronchial Thermoplasty - Patient Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient bronchoscopy procedure that delivers heat to the airway walls in the lungs, which has been shown to limit the ability of the airway smooth muscles to constrict and narrow the airways.  As a result, patients treated with bronchial thermoplasty have been shown to have a decrease in severe asthma attacks and improved quality of life.

Q: What are the benefits and risks of bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty has been shown to improve asthma-related quality of life and asthma control – including decreased severe asthma attacks, reduced ER visits and hospitalization for respiratory symptoms and less days lost from work, school and other daily activities due to asthma.  As with any procedure, there are risks and individual results can vary.  Risks may include an increase and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms immediately following the procedure (within 1-7 days) that could result in the need for hospitalization.

Q: Will I be able to stop taking my asthma medications?

A: While bronchial thermoplasty has been shown to reduce severe asthma attacks and improve asthma control, it does not cure asthma or replace current asthma medications.  You will need to continue to follow up with your primary asthma physician to manage your asthma.

Q: Am I a candidate for bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty delivered by the Alair® System is approved by the FDA for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled by ICS and LABA.  Further consultation with a physician trained on bronchial thermoplasty will help determine whether you are a proper candidate to benefit from this procedure.

Q: Who performs bronchial thermoplasty?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty is performed at a hospital by a pulmonologist who is specially trained to perform bronchoscopy procedures and bronchial thermoplasty.  McLaren Port Huron one of four hospitals in Michigan and the only hospital within the Thumb region to offer bronchial thermoplasty.

Q: Is bronchial thermoplasty covered by insurance?

A: Coverage policies and payment vary by payer.  You are encouraged to contact your payer prior to having bronchial thermoplasty to confirm coverage and payment and to obtain pre-authorization as needed.  Bronchial thermoplasty has been pre-authorized on a case-by-case basis by several payers.

Q: What will happen during the procedure?

A: Bronchial thermoplasty is often performed under moderate sedation and typically takes less than an hour to complete a treatment session.  The heat is delivered to the airway walls in the lungs with a small catheter through a standard bronchoscope that is accessed through the mouth or nose (no incision is required).  After the procedure, you will be monitored for two to four hours and discharged home the same day.  To treat the entire lung, the complete bronchial thermoplasty procedure is performed in three separate treatment sessions, each scheduled approximately three weeks apart.  A consultation with the treating physician will provide you with more details on what to expect during and after the procedure.

Q: How can I learn more about bronchial thermoplasty?

A: To learn more about bronchial thermoplasty, call HealthAccess at 1-800-228-1484. You may download a brochure or may go to