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Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - New Procedure Helping Munson Asthma Patients

New Procedure Helping Munson Asthma Patients
Hospital now approved for new Bronchial Thermoplasty procedure

Experiencing an asthma attack is a frightening experience that occurs all too frequently in the lives of thousands of Americans.

Certain asthma patients in northern Michigan suffering from the condition may be eligible for a new procedure that has been shown to reduce asthma attacks by one-third. The Alair® Bronchial Thermoplasty System recently was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for patients 18 years old and older who suffer from severe persistent asthma that cannot be controlled by inhaled corticosteroids and other standard-of-care treatments.

“It’s exciting that patients in northern Michigan are among the first in the nation to have this new treatment available for them,” said Joseph Will, M.D., pulmonologist at Munson Medical Center. “We have already experienced improvements in patients we’ve treated to date.”

The procedure, performed on outpatients under mild sedation, involves inserting a standard flexible bronchoscope through a patient’s nose or mouth into the lungs. The tip of a small catheter is expanded to contact the walls of the targeted airways. Heat is then applied to reduce the amount of smooth muscle that narrows the airways in patients with asthma.

An initial hour-long session, is followed up with two more treatments in three-week intervals. Patients who are treated experience an expected initial increase in respiratory-related symptoms. However, clinical trials show patients who received the procedure experienced in the longer term a 32 percent reduction in asthma attacks and an 84 percent reduction in emergency room visits for respiratory symptoms.

“There is no doubt that this procedure offers real benefits for certain patients,” Dr. Will said. Dr. Will, along with the five other pulmonologists of Pulmonary and Critical Care of Northwest Michigan, are the only physicians north of Grand Rapids who have been approved to perform the procedure. It is most often covered by insurance.

Asthma accounts for 2 million emergency rooms visits in the U.S. each year. Each day, about 40,000 unscheduled physician office visits, 5,000 emergency room visits, and 1,000 hospitalizations occur because of asthma.

For more information on bronchial thermoplasty visit BTfor Asthma.com.

Dr. Will practices at Pulmonary and Critical Care of Northwest Michigan, 5087 N. Royal Drive, Suite B, in Traverse City. For an appointment, call (231) 935-0440.