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New Technique Helps Severe Asthmatics Breathe Freely

North Kansas City Hospital is the only hospital north of the Missouri River offering bronchial thermoplasty, a powerful new procedure to combat severe asthma.

Severe Asthma Impacts Quality of Life

The Kansas City area is home to about 15,000 severe asthmatics. For these patients, inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta agonists are not enough to keep their asthma under control.

Bronchial Thermoplasty Offers a Solution

We help physicians care for their asthmatic patients – and drive down unscheduled visits and emergencies – by offering this highly effective technique.

Many severe asthmatics have excess airway smooth muscle (ASM), whichBT causes bronchoconstriction, asthma symptoms, and attacks.  The bronchial thermoplasty procedure uses a bronchoscope inserted through the mouth or nose to destroy excess ASM using heat energy. A wire array at the end of the catheter expands against the airway wall to deliver the heat.

By eliminating excess ASM, bronchial thermoplasty controls airway constriction and reduces the frequency of asthma attacks.

Procedure Benefits

While bronchial thermoplasty is not a cure, along with medication and other therapies, the procedure significantly cuts down on the emergency care that so many severe asthmatics regularly require. Patients who receive the procedure have an:

  • 84 percent reduction in emergency room ER visits
  • 73 percent reduction in hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms
  • 66 percent reduction in number of days lost from work, school or other daily activities
  • 32 percent reduction in rate of severe exacerbations

Specially Trained Physician

Dr. Andrea Anthony, with Pulmonary Medicine Associates, performs bronchial thermoplasty at the Hospital. Her specialized expertise in the non-invasive outpatient procedure, which takes place over three sessions, is unparalleled in this area.  Dr. Anthony trained with Boston Scientific, which manufactures the Alair® Bronchial Thermoplasty system, the FDA-approved device she uses in the bronchoscopic procedure. 

She also trained with one of the earliest adopters of the technology, Dr. Sandeep Bansal, Director of Interventional Pulmonology at DuBois Regional Medical Center.

“Bronchial thermoplasty is a safe, simple procedure that has given revolutionary results to patients who haven’t responded to traditional treatments,” explains Dr. Anthony.

Bronchial Thermoplasty Now Covered by Insurance

This past September, the American Medical Association (AMA) reclassified bronchial thermoplasty as a Category I CPT® from its previous classification as an experimental procedure. As of January 2013, all public and private health insurance payers in the United States will recognize bronchial thermoplasty, so patients can expect coverage for the procedure. Physicians and hospitals can request reimbursement through two new descriptive codes.

Learn more about the new procedure codes.

Possible Side Effects

As with all procedures, there are some risks with bronchial thermoplasty and results may vary from patient to patient. Risks may include:

  • Increase of respiratory-related symptoms immediately following the procedure
  • Need for hospitalization to control these symptoms

The good news is that these symptoms generally occur within a day and resolve within about seven days.

Identifying Candidates for Bronchial Thermoplasty

Patients who most likely benefit from bronchial thermoplasty include:

  • Adults over age 18
  • Symptomatic despite taking a combination of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta antagonists
  • Able to safely undergo a bronchoscopy procedure

Patients who should not have bronchial thermoplasty include those that have:

  • A pacemaker, internal defribrillator, or other implantable electronic device
  • A known sensitivity to medications required to perform a bronchoscopy including lidocaine, atropine, and benzodiazepine
  • Previously received treatment with the Alair® Bronchial Thermoplasty system
  • Children under age 18

Read Dr. Anthony's powerpoint presentation on bronchial thermoplasty for additional information. To refer your patient to Dr. Anthony's practice, call 816-474-3700.

About Dr. Anthony

Dr. Andrea Anthony completed her medical degree, residency, and fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.  She has more than 7 years of experience performing bronchoscopic procedures.