MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – More than 20 million Americans live with asthma every day. Although there is no cure, asthma can be managed with proper education and treatment. And now, there’s a cutting edge treatment for people with moderate to severe forms of the disease whose symptoms are not well managed with standard medications.
West Virginia University Hospitals-East City Hospital announced today that it will be the first hospital in the region and among the first in West Virginia to offer a new procedure for severe asthma patients, known as bronchial thermoplasty. This is the first non-pharmaceutical procedure approved by the FDA for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older.
“This is such a great service to offer chronic asthmatic patients in our community who are compliant with their drug regimen but continue to have acute asthmatic attacks requiring hospitalization,” stated Steven Folmer, director of surgery at City Hospital.
City Hospital is the first West Virginia United Health Systems facility and the only hospital in the four-state region to offer this procedure. “Asthmatics will not need to leave our community for the latest in advanced healthcare treatment. In a collaborative effort with our highly professional and competent nursing, anesthesia and pulmonology staff we are very proud to be the first to receive this highly specialized training and offer this service to our patients in our region,” Folmer said.
According to Folmer, all three pulmonologists on the medical staff at City Hospital have been trained to perform the bronchial thermoplasty procedure. This includes Dr. Robert Bowen, Dr. Phillip Aguila and Dr. Feroz Noori.
“Bronchial thermoplasty uses a small catheter to deliver controlled energy to the airways of the lung to reduce the amount of excessive airway smooth muscle,” Bowen explained. “This reduction decreases the muscle’s ability to constrict the airways, resulting in a decreased frequency of asthma attacks,” he added.
The minimally invasive bronchial thermoplasty procedure is performed via bronchoscopy in three outpatient visits to the hospital’s one day surgery unit. This new procedure will allow the patient to breathe easier during an acute attack and reduce their incidents of emergency room visits and hospitalization. ]
“This has the potential to be a life-changing procedure,” said Noori. “People who have this done should see their symptoms ease so they will use their rescue inhalers less, make fewer trips to the ER and they will improve their quality of life,” he added.
There are few risks with this procedure, but include a temporary increase and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms immediately after the procedure that rarely, but could require hospitalization. Patients are encouraged to talk to their physician to determine if they are a candidate for bronchial thermoplasty.
“Millions of patients with asthma struggle to keep their disease under control,” Aguila commented. Each day, roughly 40,000 unscheduled physician office visits, 5,000 emergency room visits and 1,000 hospitalizations occur due to asthma. “The bronchial thermoplasty has been shown to help patients with severe asthma gain better control over their disease,” he added.
To learn more about bronchial thermoplasty, visit www.BTforAsthma.com. For more information about bronchial thermoplasty at City Hospital and whether you would be a candidate, call WVUH-East Pulmonology (Drs. Aguila and Noori) at 304.596.6868 or Dr. Robert Bowen at 304.264.9080.