Bronchial Thermoplasty being used by doctors for asthma sufferers

Study shows 78% fewer visits to ER after surgery

Published  10:57 AM HST Oct 13, 2013
Asthma Consultation

A new procedure is giving people who suffer from severe asthma new hope. 

It's called Bronchial Thermoplasty.

Dr. Eric Crawley of Tripler Army Medical Center is the first doctor to perform the surgery in Hawaii and in an Army hospital in the country.

Click here to watch Kenny Choi's report.

"It is groundbreaking in the sense it addresses a different pathway or cause of symptoms.  All other medication really works at treating inflammation.  This actually reduces the smooth muscle which contributes to the wheezing and coughing," said Crawley.

During the surgery, which typically lasts an hour, the device enters the airways connected to the lung and heats and opens up the muscle.

A recent study shows 78% fewer ER visits by severe asthmatics who underwent BR surgery according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

For Jamie Guelker, who underwent the procedure recently, life has changed.

She takes 50 percent less medication than before the surgery.

"My ability to create endurance improved to start.  To do that is significant and pretty awesome," said Guelker.

"They're having fewer symptoms, not taking as much medication, and not waking up as much in the middle of the night, and no emergency visits.  It's a better quality of life," said Crawley.     

Dr. Crawley has performed the procedure on eight patients at Tripler since the FDA approved the technology in 2010.

The procedure costs approximately $14,000 to $20,000.

Insurance companies will cover the surgery on a case by case basis.

Kaiser Permanente and Queens Medical Center in Hawaii have also acquired the technology.

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