Asthma is a chronic lung disease that can make it difficult for someone to breathe. An asthma attack is characterized by swelling of the muscle tissue that surrounds the airways in the lungs, causing the airways to become narrowed. A person having an asthma attack may feel their chest tightening and experience difficulty breathing with wheezing and coughing. Asthma medications help open up the airways during an asthma attack, but these can be less effective in people with severe asthma.
Boulder Community Health now offers the latest innovation in the treatment of severe asthma -- Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT). BT is a safe outpatient procedure performed by a specially-trained pulmonologist using mild heat to reduce excessive smooth muscle tissue. BT actually reduces the amount of excess smooth muscle tissue in the airways. Less muscle tissue means less airway constriction during an asthma attack. Patients can breathe more easily -- and are less likely to have an asthma attack.
Patients treated with Bronchial Thermoplasty experience significant improvement in their asthma-related quality of life. Benefits of the treatment include:
- fewer severe asthma attacks
- fewer asthma-related emergency room visits
- fewer hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms
- fewer days lost from work, school, and other activities due to asthma symptoms
To learn more about Bronchial Thermoplasty treatment or to schedule a consultation, call 303-442-2150.
Boulder Valley Pulmonology
Boulder Community Hospital Medical Pavilion
1155 Alpine Avenue, Suite 150
Boulder, CO 80301
Thomas Wilcox, D.O.
How does BT work?
BT is a procedure that delivers mild heat inside the airway walls to reduce excess smooth muscle. The reduction in muscle tissue helps limit the muscle’s ability to constrict the airways and helps you breathe better.
How is BT performed?
BT is performed by a specially-trained pulmonologist under mild sedation. The complete BT procedure includes three outpatient procedure visits scheduled approximately three weeks apart. The first session treats the airways in the right lower lobe of the lungs, the second treats the airways in the left lower lobe, and the third procedure treats the airways in both upper lobes of the lungs. No incisions are needed. The procedure is performed with a bronchoscope inserted through the mouth or nose. A bronchoscope is a long, flexible tube with a camera on one end that allows the pulmonologist to see inside the airways.
How long does the procedure take?
Each procedure takes less than an hour. Following the procedure, the patient is monitored for 2-4 hours and discharged home the same day.
Will BT replace my asthma medications?
No. Short-term (rescue) asthma medications offer temporary relief by relaxing the airway muscle so that it does not block the airways during an asthma attack. BT does not replace your asthma medication. Instead, BT works with your asthma medications to give you added, long-lasting protection from serious asthma symptoms.
Are there any risks with BT?
The most common risks associated with bronchial thermoplasty involve the short term worsening of asthma symptoms immediately after the procedure, which are typically resolved within one week with standard treatment.
Is BT convered by my insurance?
In most cases, BT is covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Commercial insurance coverage for this relatively new procedure is growing steadily.
Dr. Wilcox’s office has had success working directly with insurance providers to obtain coverage for his patients. As part of this process, you will be asked to provide a personal statement describing the impact asthma has had on your quality of life.
For more information, call 303-442-2150.