Breathing: Asthma: Bronchial Thermoplasty

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What Does the Bronchial Thermoplasty Procedure Consist of?

The procedure is not unlike a “bronchoscopy,” which is a routine procedure done by pulmonologists. Usually, the night before, people will want to restrict the amount that they eat. Light sedation is given in the morning. This sedation alleviates anxiety and makes the person undergoing the procedure feel comfortable. Then, a bronchoscope, which is a camera on a long, tube, is inserted through the mouth down into the lungs. A smaller wire that produced radiofrequency energy is inserted through the bronchoscope. The radiofrequency energy is applied directly to the smooth muscle.


People often wonder whether it will burn or whether they will feel the radiofrequency energy. We don’t actually feel in that part of your lung, because there aren’t pain sensors there. People are typically very comfortable throughout the procedure. After a third of the lung has been treated, the bronchial thermoplasty device and the bronchoscope are removed. Once the sedation has worn off and the physician is happy with the status, the person undergoing the procedure can return home. Most people are able to go home the same day. Very few people have to actually spend the night in the hospital.


People are monitored closely during the week after the procedure. There might be a few more asthma events or some infections, but those are rare. After about a week, people report that the benefits become notable. And then, the second third and third portions of the lung are completed in a similar fashion. After completing three-thirds, the whole procedure is complete.