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Bronchial Thermoplasty

KRMC Cardiovascular Care
The interventional pulmonologists at Rocky Mountain Heart & Lung offer bronchial thermoplasty to treat severe asthma. Patients do not need a referral for pulmonary services. To learn more or make an appointment, call (406) 257-8992.

What is bronchial thermoplasty?

Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient procedure for severe asthma in adults. Clinical studies have proven that the procedure can reduce asthma attacks and emergency room visits for at least five years in adult patients with severe asthma, and it is shown to improve asthma-related quality of life for people living with the disease.

Bronchial thermoplasty uses mild heat to decrease the amount of smooth muscle tissue in the airways. Excess smooth muscle tissue contributes to the constriction of the airways during an asthma attack, making it harder to breathe. With less smooth muscle the airways constrict less, reducing asthma attacks and making breathing easier. Fewer asthma attacks means less need for the associated oral steroid treatment – and its side effects.

Using a bronchoscope, a pulmonologist is able to see the airways and perform the treatment. Bronchial thermoplasty is typically performed under moderate sedation, in three sessions of about an hour each.

After bronchial thermoplasty most patients are able to breathe more easily and are less likely to have asthma attacks. Asthma medications are usually still needed after bronchial thermoplasty, and patients should resume asthma management with their primary physician.

Patient Stories

Crystal Romine is breathing easy after bronchial thermoplasty at Rocky Mountain Heart & Lung. Read her story.

Is bronchial thermoplasty right for me?

Bronchial thermoplasty can help patients who are:
  • Taking multiple asthma medications (check with your doctor to make sure that you are on the appropriate medication and taking it as prescribed)
  • Experiencing one or more of the following:
    • Asthma attacks
    • Adjustments to your lifestyle to avoid asthma triggers
    • Absences from work, school or other daily activities because of your asthma
Bronchial thermoplasty is not right for patients who:
  • Are under 18 years old
  • Have a pacemaker, internal defibrillator or other implantable electronic device
  • Have a known sensitivity to medications required to perform bronchoscopy, including lidocaine, atropine and benzodiazepines
  • Have previously been treated with bronchial thermoplasty

How does the procedure work?

  • Each session treats a different part of the lung to ensure safety.
  • During the procedure a carefully controlled device delivers mild heat to the smooth muscle of the airways in the lungs, reducing the amount of excessive smooth muscle.
  • No incision is needed; bronchial thermoplasty is performed with a bronchoscope inserted through the nose or mouth.
  • As with any procedure, there are risks, and individual results may vary. The most common side effect is temporary worsening of respiratory-related symptoms. This side effect typically occurs within a day of the procedure and resolves within seven days on average with standard care.