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Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012 Aug;43(1-2):184-93. doi: 10.1007/s12016-011-8295-6.

Bronchial thermoplasty: a new treatment paradigm for severe persistent asthma.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, 4150 V Street, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


Patients with severe asthma represent only a minority of the total asthma population; however, they account for the majority of the mortality, morbidity, and health care-related cost of this chronic illness. Bronchial thermoplasty is a novel treatment modality that employs radiofrequency energy to alter the smooth muscles of the airways. This therapy represents a radical change in our treatment paradigm from daily repetitive dosing of medications to a truly long-term and potentially permanent attenuation of perhaps the most feared component of asthma--smooth muscle-induced bronchospasm. A large, multicentered, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial employed the unprecedented (but now industry standard for bronchoscopic studies) approach of using sham bronchoscopy as a control. It demonstrated that bronchial thermoplasty is safe, improved quality of life, and decreased frequency of severe exacerbations in the treatment group compared to the control group. Although the mechanism of action of bronchial thermoplasty is not currently completely understood, it should be considered as a valid and potentially valuable option for patients who have severe persistent asthma and who remain symptomatic despite inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-2 agonists. Such patients should however be carefully evaluated at centers with expertise in managing severe asthma patients and with physicians who have experience with this promising new treatment modality.

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