A breakthrough treatment for severe asthma

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Bronchial thermoplasty, the first FDA-approved procedure for severe asthma, is a breakthrough treatment.

Yale-New Haven Hospital is the only one in the state that offers the outpatient procedure. Patient Joanne Raymunt is about to undergo the third stage of the treatment in three months.

“It’s my last one. Hopefully, this will work,” said Raymunt, whose childhood asthma worsened after her first pregnancy. “It really got really bad. My daughter was three months old and I was blue on the table.”

Standard treatment didn’t help Raymunt. Bronchial thermoplasty has already proven to improve symptoms and decrease medication needs of patients.

Dr. Geoff Chupp is the director of the Asthma Center at Yale-New Haven.

“They can expect to see improvement in their daily symptoms, a reduction in their medication requirements and less of a need for hospitalizations and fewer severe attacks,” Chupp said.

Here’s how it’s done: An endoscope with a catheter, is used to heat up the airways. Chupp pointed to the monitor while the procedure was underway,

“You don’t really see much, right? But there’s actually heat going into the airways — 65 degrees centigrade. It’s a like a cup of coffee basically.”

Dr. Gaetane Michaud, who specializes in interventional bronchoscopy, is focusing on the upper lobes of Raymunt’s lungs.

Said Chupp, “We gently heat up the airways, by doing that we damage the smooth muscle around the airways that is causing the bronchospasm that contributes to asthma attacks.”

In total, 85 hits and in time Chupp says there will be less smooth muscle. Already, Raymunt is benefiting after the first two stages, which targeted her lower lobes.

“I didn’t take any prednisone and I didn’t take any inhalers so that’s a plus.” she said.

Chupp said that early indications are repeating the process is unlikely for Joanne. The procedure took about an hour. Raymunt was in the recovery room for four hours and will be monitored closely in the next few days.

Chupp adds that patients can expect some asthma flare-ups which will be treated and in time will eventually subside. Medicare covers it and so does some insurance companies.

For more information, go to http://www.asthma.yale.edu.

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