JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Asthma is a chronic disease that makes breathing difficult for more than 35 million Americans. Adults with severe asthma can now treat their symptoms with a non-drug procedure approved by the Food and Drug Administration that has been proven to be safe and long lasting.

Specialists at the University of Florida Division of Pulmonary Medicine say Bronchial thermoplasty with the Alair® System is used to treat severe, persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists. UF Health says the bronchoscopy-based procedure uses a small catheter to deliver controlled energy to the airways of the lungs to reduce the amount of excessive airway smooth muscle. This decreases the muscle’s ability to constrict the airways, resulting in a decreased frequency of asthma attacks.

"For a long long time they've been trying to find out is there any additional way that we can control these symptoms," Dr. Abubakr A. Bajwa, Associate Professor and Division Chief says. "And about five or six years ago the interest in Bronchial Thermoplasty started."

Specialists say the Alair® Bronchial Thermoplasty System (the “Alair® System”) delivers thermal energy to the airway wall in a precisely controlled manner in order to reduce excessive airway smooth muscle. This decreases the ability of the airways to constrict, thereby reducing the frequency of asthma attacks.

Dr. Bajwa says bronchial thermoplasty is expected to complement asthma maintenance medications by providing long-lasting asthma control and improving asthma-related quality of life of patients with severe asthma. In addition, he says bronchial thermoplasty has been demonstrated to reduce severe exacerbations (asthma attacks), emergency rooms visits for respiratory symptoms, and time lost from work, school and other daily activities.

Bronchial thermoplasty is performed under moderate sedation or light anesthesia in three outpatient procedure visits scheduled approximately three weeks apart, Dr. Bajwa explains. Each visit treats a different area of the lungs and the patient typically goes home the same day.

Dr. Bajwa says, "Once the procedure is done it should last for years. And recently we have data up to five years out effects persist after the treatment is done."

This procedure is now being offered in Jacksonville by University of Florida physicians. Call 904-244-4075 to schedule an appointment and learn if bronchial thermoplasty is right for you.