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Bronchial Thermoplasty

Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) is an FDA-approved bronchoscopic procedure for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in individuals who are 18 years and older, whose asthma is not well controlled.

BT uses thermal energy to reduce the excessive airway smooth muscle responsible for airway constriction in asthma patients, thereby providing long-lasting control in adults with severe asthma.

St. Bernards is currently one of only two hospitals in Arkansas actively treating chronic severe asthma using BTGraphic

Patient Benefits

  • No anesthesia or drugs
  • Clinically proven to be safe and effective
  • Long-lasting effects

Candidate Qualifications

  • Adults between 18-65 years old
  • Non-smokers
  • Have severe or persistent asthma not well controlled by inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting bronchodilator medications

Procedure Description

A full course of BT treatment includes three separate bronchoscopic procedures: a separate procedure for each lung’s lower lobe and a third for the upper lobes of both lungs. Each outpatient procedure is performed approximately three weeks apart.

While the patients are under sedation, a catheter inside a bronchoscope—a thin, flexible tube-like instrument—is introduced through the patient’s nose or mouth and into his or her lungs, delivering thermal energy into the airways. The patient is monitored after the procedure and usually returns home that day.

After the procedure, patients may experience the temporary side effects of coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. 

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Bronchial Thermoplasty: FAQs

What is Bronchial Thermoplasty? 

Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) is a safe outpatient bronchoscopy procedure that uses mild heat to reduce excessive smooth muscle in the airways, which helps reduce severe asthma attacks.

How does BT work?

People with severe asthma have an excess of smooth muscle tissue lining their airways. During an asthma attack, this muscle constricts the airways, making breathing difficult. BT reduces the amount of excess muscle and helps minimize the narrowing of your airways during an asthma attack.

What are the benefits and risks of BT?

In a clinical trial, almost 79% of patients treated with BT reported significant improvements in their asthma-related quality of life—including a reduction in asthma attacks, ER visits and hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms, and fewer days lost from work, school, and other daily activities due to asthma. As with any procedure, there are risks, and individual results may vary. The most common side effect of BT is temporary worsening of respiratory-related symptoms (within 1 to 7 days). There is a small risk (3.4%) of these symptoms requiring hospitalization.

Am I a candidate for BT?

BT delivered by the Alair™ System is approved by the FDA for the treatment of severe asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists such as Advair™, Symbicort™, and Dulera™. Further evaluation with Dr. Mark Sifford, who is trained in BT, will help determine whether you are a candidate who may benefit from this procedure.

What will happen during the procedure?

To ensure safety and optimal results every step of the way, BT is typically performed under moderate sedation in three separate sessions scheduled three weeks apart. Each session lasts about an hour and focuses on a different part of the lung to ensure all of the affected areas are treated. The device is introduced into your airways through a bronchoscope that is inserted into your mouth or nose, so no incision is required. After the procedure, you will be monitored for 2 to 4 hours and discharged on the same day. The treating physician will provide you with more details on what to expect during and after the procedure.

Who performs BT?

Currently Dr. Mark Sifford is the only St. Bernards physician practicing BT. St. Bernards is also the only hospital actively treating BT at the moment.

Will I be able to stop taking my asthma medications?

BT does not replace your current daily maintenance medication, but instead works with it to provide long-term stability in your asthma symptoms and lessen severe asthma attacks requiring oral steroids (prednisone). Is BT covered by insurance? Coverage policies and payment vary by payer. Your BT physician/staff will work with you to request coverage of your BT procedure. 

For more information please call the St. Bernards Healthline at (870) 207-7300. 

Bronchial Thermoplasty Treatment Locations 
St. Bernards Clopton Clinic - Pulmonology
Dr. Mark Sifford and Dr. Joshua Morrison 
300 Carson
Jonesboro, AR 72401
870.932.1198