Asthma is a common disease in which the airways in the lung become inflamed and then narrow when muscles within the airway walls contract. Conventional therapies use two type of drugs viz short- term relievers and long-term controllers. While the relievers as the name suggests, treat the symptoms and eliminate them, giving short term relief, during an attack controllers are aimed at suppressing the inflammation in the airways. But this therapy may not be effective in treating severe or persistent conditions.
Bronchial themoplasty is a potential new asthma treatment currently undergoing clinical testing. Developed by a medical device company called Asthmatx Inc, this procedure has the potential to provide relief to asthma patients who do not respond to conventional treatment. A clinical trial was conducted on sixteen adults with mild to moderate asthma that did not respond to current asthma treatments. The results of the study are encouraging as 75 percent of the participants reported that the new treatment allowed to function better in daily activities and reduced peak expiratory flow readings.
Bronchioplasty is a new procedure, designed to reduce the tendency of narrowing of asthmatic airways. In this new procedure, the airways are treated in half-hour treatment sessions and may require up to three sessions to fully treat both lungs. The treatment, like any other endoscopy, is delivered through a bronchoscope. The procedure uses radio frequency energy to the airway to alter the ability of the muscles in the airway walls to constrict. When the constriction is reduced, it results in a reduction in the frequency as well as severity of asthma attacks in patients. Radio frequency energy is sent through a catheter inserted through the bronchoscope that heats the smooth muscle walls to approximately 149 º F.
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This procedure is expected to have an impact on the treatment of asthma in future. It is hoped that this procedure could be useful in reducing the severity and frequency of asthma attacks and be an alternative to the conventional asthma treatments although it is not intended to cure asthma.