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El Camino Hospital Leading the Bay Area with Novel Bronchial Thermoplasty Procedure for Long-Term Treatment of Severe Asthma in Adults

Mountain View, CA - July 29, 2013 - Of the more than two million adults (7.9%) in California who have asthma, an estimated one in five have poorly controlled asthma and are four times more likely to have an asthma-related emergency room visit and six times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma. These patients may be eligible candidates for bronchial thermoplasty (BT), the first non-drug asthma therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for long-term treatment of severe, persistent asthma that is not well controlled by standard medications. El Camino Hospital is one of only two hospitals in California offering this novel procedure.

Led by Ganesh Krishna, MD, an interventional pulmonologist at El Camino Hospital and the Palo Alto Medication Foundation, and nationally renowned expert in BT, El Camino Hospital is one of the leading centers in the world and the highest volume center on the West Coast for BT, having performed 98 procedures on 34 patients since FDA approval in 2010. Additionally, El Camino Hospital is one of only two BT training centers for physicians in the U.S. and the designated training center for the West Coast.

"Patients with asthma have enlarged smooth muscles constricting their airways, making breathing and performing even simple everyday tasks extremely difficult. In severe cases, standard asthma medications do not always alleviate symptoms or prevent life-threatening asthma attacks," said Dr. Krishna. "For these patients, bronchial thermoplasty may be a highly-effective treatment option for managing their asthma. We are proud to be a leader in this innovative approach and helping patients with severe asthma improve their quality of life."

BT is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed in three treatment sessions, scheduled approximately three weeks apart and each focusing on a different section of the lungs. During the procedure, the physician uses a flexible bronchoscope to guide the Alair® System into the lungs. Once in place, the device uses radiofrequency energy to gently heat small sections of the airway, reducing the excessive smooth muscle and improving the patient’s ability to breathe.

In clinical trials, patients who received this treatment experienced significant improvement in their quality of life, including:

  • 32 percent reduction in asthma attacks
  • 84 percent reduction in emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms
  • 73 percent reduction in hospitalizations for respiratory symptoms
  • 66 percent reduction in days lost from work/school or other daily activities due to asthma

LaRetta Fisher, 31, of Yuba City, California, has had asthma since she was born and spent her entire life dealing with debilitating asthma attacks, despite being on medications. In 2012, Fisher was referred to Dr. Krishna for bronchial thermoplasty, and says she noticed an immediate change in her ability to breathe after the procedure, particularly when exercising. While she previously needed an inhaler after just walking briskly down a hallway, she is now able to train for a half marathon and go skydiving with minimal use of an inhaler. Additionally, she has not had an asthma-related emergency room or hospital visit since receiving the treatment, a once monthly occurrence.

"Life after bronchial thermoplasty is a complete 180-degree turn," said Fisher. "It feels like I don’t even have asthma now. I have a life that I didn’t even know was possible before."

The BT treatment is only available for adults 18 years and older with severe, persistent asthma that is not well controlled with standard medications such as inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists. The procedure is not a cure for asthma and is not intended to replace the use of current asthma medications.