Bronchial thermoplasty is a new way of treating severe and persistent asthma without the need for drugs.
It involves heating the walls of the airways in a finely controlled way to reduce excess muscle, which can constrict the airways and make it hard to breathe.
Smooth muscle is located within the walls of airways in the lung, and in patients with asthma there is usually too much of it. Reducing the excess muscle therefore reduces the frequency of asthma attacks.
Patients are assessed by the asthma team, led by Dr Andrew Menzies-Gow, consultant respiratory physician. If they are suitable for treatment, patients can usually go home the same day that they are treated.
What happens during the procedure?
The procedure is performed by a consultant respiratory physician and involves passing a fibre-optic camera through the airways and into the lungs. Patients are sedated rather than given a full anaesthetic.
An electrode at the tip of the tube carrying the camera then delivers short pulses of radiofrequency energy to the airway wall. The heat produced damages the excess muscle tissue to stop it constricting the airways.
Bronchial thermoplasty video
Watch Al Jazeera's 'The CURE –- Attacking Asthma' to see how bronchial thermoplasty at Royal Brompton Hospital is dramatically changing the lives of patients with severe asthma.