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McLaren Port Huron offers bronchial thermoplasty to help patients with severe asthma breathe easier

Friday, February 08, 2013

Port Huron, MI – McLaren Port Huron now offers an innovative procedure called bronchial thermoplasty for the treatment of severe asthma.  For an estimated two million adults with severe asthma who continue to have asthma-related symptoms despite standard of care medications, bronchial thermoplasty is a new treatment option. On a regional level, St. Clair County has a higher number of people with chronic respiratory disease, including asthma, than any other county in southeast Michigan.  McLaren Port Huron is the only hospital in the region and one of only four hospitals in Michigan to offer this procedure.

Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient procedure used to treat severe asthma by applying heat to the airways of the lungs, reducing constriction in the airways. The procedure generally takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half, with a recovery time of two to four hours.

The procedure is performed by pulmonary and critical care specialists, Dr. Michael Basha and Dr. Vasken Artinian, independent physicians on McLaren Port Huron’s medical staff. Both are skilled in bronchoscopy and specially trained to perform bronchial thermoplasty.

“The lungs consist of multiple airway passages that are surrounded by airway smooth muscle,” says Dr. Basha. “For people with asthma, this airway smooth muscle is more susceptible to triggers and irritants that can cause it to constrict and reduce the amount of air that flows through the lungs. During bronchial thermoplasty, a small catheter is inserted through a bronchoscope into the airway to deliver controlled heat to the airway in 10 second increments to reduce the amount of excessive airway smooth muscle. This reduction decreases the muscle’s ability to constrict the airways. The result is a decrease in the frequency of asthma attacks.”

The bronchial thermoplasty equipment purchased by McLaren Port Huron is the Alair® System, which  is approved by the FDA for treatment of adults with severe asthma who are not well controlled on current medications. It is expected to complement asthma medications by providing long-lasting asthma control.

“The procedure is routinely performed under moderate sedation and the patient goes home the same day,” adds Dr. Basha. “To treat the entire lung, the complete bronchial thermoplasty procedure is performed in three separate outpatient treatment sessions, each treating a different area of the lung and scheduled approximately three weeks apart.”

“Patients usually notice improvements in one to two weeks following the procedure,” says Dr. Artinian. “Benefits of bronchial thermoplasty include fewer severe asthma attacks, a reduction in visits to the ER and hospitalization for respiratory symptoms and less time lost from work due to asthma. For some patients, it even reduces medication levels.”

McLaren Port Huron has been recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for the past three years for excellence in pulmonary care and, as such, is ranked as one of the Best Hospitals in the metropolitan Detroit area.

To learn more about bronchial thermoplasty, please visit www.porthuronhospital.org/asthma.